Damonte Dodd was as surprised as anyone to find himself sitting across from Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon early Tuesday evening in the coach’s Comcast Center office.
A 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior forward on the Queen Anne’s County basketball team, Dodd had been lightly recruited until recently. His only scholarship offers were to Morgan State, Coppin State and Bowie State – not necessarily Duke, North Carolina or even, say, Wake Forest.
“I honestly was just as clueless as a doorknob,” Dodd said Wednesday, recounting a whirlwind 24 hours. “I didn’t know what was coming.”
But when Turgeon said the Terps were offering a scholarship, Dodd needed only seconds to react – though he tried to play it cool.
“I told him that it was my dream come true and I’m happy to be a part of the Terps,” Dodd said.
And thus Maryland had its fourth recruit for the 2012 incoming freshman class. Fredericksburg guard Seth Allen was relatively unknown when he committed to Maryland less than a week into Turgeon’s tenure in College Park. Massachusetts forward Jake Layman and Houston center Shaquille Cleare were known commodities when they committed.
As for Dodd … could he be the second coming of Greg Whittington?
“Never heard of him,” said Dodd, who averages 24.2 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.7 blocks.
Whittington, of course, was the 2011 All-Met Player of the Year, who rose from relative obscurity on the recruiting circuit before his senior year at Oakland Mills to become the subject of an intense recruiting battle between Georgetown and Maryland. So far for the Hoyas, Whittington is averaging 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 18.8 minutes per game this season as a freshman.
The comparison between Dodd and Whittington, though, stops at the fact that they came from off-the-basketball-radar areas of Maryland to become high-level prospects in their final year of high school, according to one college coach who has seen both players. While Whittington was ready to step into the Georgetown rotation immediately, Dodd could be a year away.
“The kid can really run the floor, but he’s very raw,” the coach said. “He scores all his points on putbacks and alley-oops. They throw it off the glass and he grabs it and puts it back in. He’s not going to get the ball in the post and face up and score. He will shoot the three, which to me means he can shoot it.
“It makes sense, because bigs are hard to find. And he can really run. He was getting down the floor faster than the guards.”
Dodd is 2 of 12 from three-point range but shooting a startling 79 percent on two-point attempts this season.
Maryland first scouted Dodd on Dec. 19, when Queen Anne’s played at St. Michael’s. Having heard whispers that a Terps’ assistant coach might be present, Dodd tried to play his “usual game” – and finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. After the game, he learned that assistant coach Scott Spinelli had been in the stands.
It was Whittington’s versatility for a 6-9 player that made him stand out. Asked for a scouting report on himself, Dodd’s game sounds similar.
“I like to [compare] myself near Kevin Durant, I can pretty much do everything,” Dodd said. “When you’re on teams not as big, you’ve got to play where they need you so I’ve played a lot in the post. But I’ve always been able to driblble and always been able to shoot the ball.”
In order to get ready for college, Dodd said he needs to bulk up. His athletic ability also is on display during the spring track season, where he qualified for the state championship meet in the shot put and triple jump last spring.
“Just get stronger, get my moves quicker and have a huge work ethic,” he said.