Maryland and Texas Tech, two college basketball programs decidedly in rebuilding mode, each made key frontcourt additions last week, as they work to revitalize rosters that were works in progress under new coaching staffs.
Maryland has laundry list of roster needs as it works back into ACC prominence, but the Terrapins appear to be stocked going forward. They now have four frontcourt commitments among their 2012 recruiting class, and count three top-100 nationally ranked players in that category, with the commitment of Wheeler (Ga.) post Charles Mitchell, a beefy 6-8 center. Mitchell entertained numerous scholarship offers, as Maryland beat out Tennessee and Florida State among other schools.
It would probably be wise for Maryland to emphasize conditioning as it acclimates this recruiting class to their collegiate freshmen seasons, as Mitchell and fellow top-100 prospect, Shaq Cleare, are both in the 250 pound range on their sub 6-10 frames. Beyond that, both Mitchell and Cleare look to be future starters at the high-major levels, with solid skill sets on their already man-sized frames that beg for refinement.
Both could be physical forces in the future, assuming Maryland can adapt to having both players in the lineup. Additionally, 6-8 combo forward Jake Layman also looks like a player that can compete for playing time right off the bat, among the five player recruiting class. Make no mistake, coach Mark Turgeon has done good work in his first effort as the head man at Maryland, and this is a class that may lack stars, but has building blocks to future success.
The same can be said for the group set for Texas Tech. The recent pledges of guard Michael Carey and top-100 power forward Wannah Bail were promising, and so is last week’s verbal by 6-7 combo forward Aaron Ross to the Red Raiders and coach Billy Gillispie (above).
Recruiting junkies will remember that Ross was a member of Arkansas’ bang up recruiting class under former coach John Pelphrey last year. Ross was an in-state star at Pulsaki Academy (Ark.), but failed to qualify for initial eligibility at Arkansas.
Instead, Ross rerouted to prep school at St. John’s Northwest Military Academy (Wis.), where he made good use of the extra season, by all accounts. In Ross and Bail, Texas Tech has a potent frontcourt combination on their hands, as some considered Ross a top-100 player for much of his high school career. Given the success of this year’s team, starting slots are presumably open for the taking for next season at Texas Tech, and it’s reasonable to assume that Ross and Bail could be in the mix.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.