For programs that have been cut off the lists of the handful of remaining elite prospects, recruiting in late February is an exercise in finding undervalued sleepers, projecting potential into developing players, and facing facts in adding players that best project to fill a role. Maryland and Pittsburgh each took verbal commitments last week from 2012 prospects who fit one of those headings.
Maryland is a program that is low on numbers, so it isn’t unusual to see the Terrapins add a local player who projects for the future like 6-9 Damonte Dodd of Queen Ann’s (Md.). With several more polished signees already headed to join the program in the frontcourt, and still more roster slots remaining, Maryland added a player that wasn’t on the radar for many programs, but could be a factor with time.
A little-known inside prospect like Dodd is hard to place expectations on, as he did not play on a high-profile travelling team over the spring and summer, and does not play a difficult slate of opponents as a high school player. Still, those that have seen him say that he is improving rapidly, and still has more upside. A player with that profile is a common add late in the cycle, but it remains to be seen if Dodd can develop into more than a tantalizing blank slate.
On the other hand, the new pledge to Pittsburgh, 6-5 wing Chris Jones of Teaneck (N.J.) won’t be much of a mystery for the Panthers. He’s an outside shooter with good size, and has enough versatility to play a couple positions for the future. With mostly mid-major offers, Jones jumped at the opportunity to head to a prestigious program like Pitt, and announced his commitment on Monday night.
While at Pitt, coach Jaime Dixon has been a tactician on the recruiting trail, largely landing team-first players that can be molded into his specific system. In Jones, Pitt has an incoming player than can fill an outside shooting role, and has the room to improve for the future. Jones played on a loaded New Jersey Playaz during the spring and summer, and didn’t always shine. This year at Teaneck, though, Jones has reportedly flourished as a scorer during his senior season.
Jones will certainly be closer to his contributor role he was utilized in for the New Jersey Playaz at Pitt than the leading scorer role he plays at Teaneck, and it seems likely that Dixon and company have definite plans for the hard-nosed Jones. As a late addition to a class that already included a future star in center Steven Adams and heady point guard James Robinson, Jones is like icing on a cake.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.