UPDATE 10:36 a.m.: The Post’s Eric Detweiler talked to Wiley on the phone. Read what he had to say.
ORIGINAL POST: Nearly five years ago, Dion Wiley’s apartment complex in Oxon Hill built a brand-new recreation center.
“That was like a gift from God,” said Mike Gray, Wiley’s longtime AAU coach and mentor.
Whenever Gray picked up Wiley for Maryland Ruff Ryders practice, it wasn’t uncommon to find Wiley already working out, hoisting shots or lifting weights, anything to squeeze a few more precious minutes into an already basketball-heavy day.
A quiet, reserved shooting guard built on routine, Wiley closed a recruitment that included offers from Georgetown, Florida and Indiana, among others, orally committing to Maryland early Friday morning. His presence will give the Terrapins a loaded Class of 2014 back court that now includes Wiley, seen by ESPN.com as the state of Maryland’s No. 1 player, and Romelo Trimble, Virginia’s top-ranked prospect.
“Coach Turgeon was one of the first coaches to come after Dion, I guess that really impressed Dion,” said Gray, who first began coaching Wiley when he was 10 years old. “It wasn’t like a beating-him-across-the-head, calling him everyday-type thing. It’s just that Coach Turgeon seemed to impress him. He took a liking to him, and felt like it would be a good fit if he went there, that Coach Turgeon and his staff would take care of him.”
The sentiment is mutual. Scoring the top prospect from both Team Takeover (Wiley) and DC Assault (Trimble) represents a colossal recruiting milestone in Turgeon’s short tenure, now entering its third year.
Wiley’s commitment, spearheaded by Turgeon, was several years in the making. His smooth shooting stroke and diverse skill-set also dates back years. Wiley first joined the Ruff Ryders organization around age 7, and could already execute a deadly crossover once Gray found him three years later. “To watch him,” Gray said, “was a thing of beauty.”
Wiley blossomed at Potomac High School and with Team Takeover on the AAU circuit, where he leads the EYBL’s top-ranked team in scoring and shoots 48 percent from three-point range. The offers flowed fast.
“We didn’t want to push him either way,” Gray said. “We didn’t demand he go to Maryland or demand he go to Florida. We told him, ‘The decision is yours,’ because ultimately he has to be comfortable with whatever decision he chose. The decision process we were involved in was listening to him, different schools would call and ask me questions, we would say we just want to wait and see. We were just there to help Dion mentally, to look out for him, so he wouldn’t get used and abused by schools or by individuals or the media or whatever. We were just there to guide.”
“For a kid who loves to play basketball as much as Dion does, it was amazing to see his stock rise so fast,” said Renee Smith, another Ruff Ryders coach and mentor. “I think Dion trusts Maryland, they were really recruiting Dion the hardest. I think they are more like his style of play, play fast, freedom for him to do what he wanted to do.”
Freedom is nice, but Gray said Wiley succeeds through routine and old habits, like the hours spent pre-practicing at the apartment complex. Even down to his food, Gray has been trying for years to diversify Wiley’s tastes, offering up T-bone steak and the like. “He always seems to go back to chicken wings,” Gray said.