Maryland’s competing now, but issues at the point keep popping up

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Maryland was in danger of missing the NCAA tournament before Monday night’s visit from No. 4 Syracuse, and while their 57-55 loss doesn’t really damage an already weak profile, what it does is take away yet another opportunity to make themselves look better in the eyes of the committee.

The Terps have now lost three of their last four games and four of their last six. All four of those losses have come against teams currently ranked in the top 25. These last three weeks were Maryland’s chance to make themselves relevant once again, and they couldn’t capitalize on it.

And here’s the frustrating part: Maryland’s gotten better. They’re not a bad basketball team. They lost to Syracuse by two points in a game where Seth Allen had a shot to win at the buzzer. They lost to Duke at Cameron in a game where Charles Mitchell’s go-ahead layup rolled off the rim with less than 10 seconds left. They lost at Virginia by eight. They lost at North Carolina by 12.

This is a team that can hang with the ACC’s big dogs at home or on the road.

They’re just not good enough to beat them yet.

It will be interesting to see if that changes in the coming years.

Mark Turgeon has stockpiled quite a bit of talent in College Park, and he’s got another excellent recruiting class coming in next season. The key, however, is going to end up being point guard Romelo Trimble, because for two years now, the Terps have lacked a leader at that position.

I like Allen. I like him a lot. But I like him as a change-of-pace sparkplug off the bench. He’s a shooter and a scorer that is capable of doing things like putting up 22 points on the Orange. He was 6-for-9 from three point range. He also had five turnovers and no assists.

As a point guard.

You don’t have to be a basketball-savant to see the issue there.

The bottom-line is this: Roddy Peters is a playmaker, but he’s not yet ready to be a full-time point guard and I’m not sure if he will ever be. Dez Wells is at his best when he’s able to be a slasher from the wing, a guy attacking the paint and using his physical tools to draw fouls and finish around the bucket. Nick Faust isn’t a point guard, either. Throw in Allen, and that’s a talented back court. Then toss in a front line that includes Charles Mitchell, Evan Smotrcyz, Jake Layman, Damonte Dodd and Shaq Cleare, and you’re looking at a Maryland with some promising pieces.

But they’re missing a player someone that can run an offense and get the ball in the hands of their talent in a position that they can score.

And if Trimble isn’t that guy next season, I’m not sure if things will change for Maryland.

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.