Mark Turgeon

Report: 2014 shooting guard Dion Wiley commits to Maryland

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There may have been questions about how Maryland’s move to the Big Ten would affect the program when it came to local recruits. If the last two commitments picked up by head coach Mark Turgeon are any indication, the Terrapins could be in good shape.

After landing point guard Romelo Trimble in December, Coach Turgeon and his staff have reeled in 6-3 shooting guard Dion Wiley according to

Wiley’s a Top 50 prospect from Oxon Hill, Md., and he chose the Terrapins over high-major schools such as Florida, Georgetown, Indiana and N.C. State according to the report.

With the addition of Wiley Maryland has now landed players from both D.C. Assault (Trimble) and Team Takeover (Wiley), two of the best grassroots programs in the area.

Turgeon broke Maryland’s extended drought with one local AAU power, D.C. Assault, by snagging [Roddy] Peters and Trimble. Wiley, meanwhile, is the Terps’ first recruit from the other – Team Takeover. The state’s flagship basketball program hasn’t enjoyed such success recruiting its talent-laden home territory in years, a local groundswell not lost on Wiley.

“I think it was [a factor]. They’re really trying to keep local guys locked down and letting these guys know about everything that Maryland has to offer. They’re still Maryland, and they’re getting back to where they were,” Broach said. ”It’s one of the best schools in the country. One experience he had was, when he went to the Maryland Duke game and Maryland won, that was an experience that compared to nothing else.”

With young players such as Peters, Trimble and now Wiley on board (not to mention Seth Allen and Nick Faust), Maryland won’t lack for perimeter talent when they enter the Big Ten in 2014. And with the move to a league that isn’t exactly in Maryland’s backyard from a geographical standpoint, winning recruiting battles for the top local talent becomes even more important for Turgeon.

One of the issues Maryland ran into late in the Gary Williams era was the rising influence of grassroots programs on the recruiting process, which famously led to the recruiting brouhaha involving Rudy Gay.

“The last five or six years, I would say that was the dramatic change,” Williams said in a Washington Post article in 2009. “With the change in the AAU has come incredible influence over the player, even the players with parents there. The AAU in the last five years has gained a phenomenal foothold with a lot of families in terms of directing their kid where he winds up going to school.”

If Maryland is to have success in the Big Ten, the strength of its relationships with local recruits will be critical. Landing Trimble and now Wiley is certainly a step in the right direction.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.