Posted on: May 15, 2011 7:42 pm

Commitment Catch-up: Copes follows uncle to Mason

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Paul Hewitt has not wasted any time since become George Mason’s new head coach.

After hiring Roland Houston as an assistant coach last week, Hewitt received a commitment from Houston’s nephew, former George Washington commit Erik Copes.

Copes was released from his letter-of-intent on Friday, shortly after Houston was hired at George Mason. Houston was an assistant at GW under Karl Hobbs for the past seven seasons.

“I love Coach Hewitt and the campus,” Copes told Jeff Goodman. “It’s a perfect situation for me. This team is good with or without me, but I’m going to try and make them better.”

Copes is a 6-foot-8 power forward from Imhotep Charter (Pa.) who rose rapidly in the 2011 rankings over the past year. He is outstanding defensively, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots at a high rate. Copes also runs the floor and finishes around the basket.

His uncle’s decision to join Hewitt’s staff was clearly the primary factor in his decision.

“This was a tough situation for me because I grew up around GW. I had my mind set on going there and those guys are like family,” Copes said. “I really wanted to be coached by my uncle.”

Memphis nabs top-50 2012 prospect

Despite having plenty of young players on the roster, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is still stockpiling talent for the future. On Saturday night, Pastner picked up a commitment from junior Damien Wilson.

Wilson, a 6-foot-5 wing from Oak Hill Academy (Va.), chose the Tigers over UCLA, Tennessee and Florida.

“It was just today that I had to get it out of the way,” Wilson told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I’ve been watching them since Chris Douglas-Roberts. That’s when I first fell in love with Memphis basketball.”

The Atlanta native is an athletic lefty who can drive to the basket and finish or knock down shots from the perimeter. Wilson has a variety of skills and loves to attack the rim and create matchup problems.

“I feel like wherever coach Pastner wants me to play, I’ll play,” Wilson said.

Turgeon gets first recruit at Maryland

After seeing his 2011 recruiting class disintegrate over the last week, new Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon went to work on 2012.

On a visit to College Park on Saturday, Seth Allen committed to the Terrapins.

“I think he was really impressed with the campus today on the visit,” Seth’s father, Joe Allen, told Evan Daniels of Scout.com.

Allen is a 6-foot-2 guard from Fredricksburg Christian School (Va.) who can score the ball at the rim or from behind the arc. He has deep range on his jumper.

Texas A&M was the first school to offer Allen, when Turgeon was in College Station.

“They stayed in touch,” Allen said. “We were getting ready to make a trip out there, but luckily he stayed in touch. He came down and saw our son and they built a relationship and it went from there.”

Posted on: May 14, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 3:15 pm

Lefty Driesell pulls no punches with Mark Turgeon

We imagine this was Turgeon's reaction when he heard who Lefty Driesell recommeded for the Maryland job.

Posted by Eric Angevine

For those of us who write about college basketball, one of the excellent side effects of the coaching change at Maryland has been the resurgence in interest in Lefty Driesell, the endlessly quotable former coach of the Terps.

Recently, CBS affiliate 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore had Lefty on to talk about his coaching run-ins with Turgeon, which happened when Turgeon was starting his head coaching career at Jacksonville State and Driesell was winding down at Georgia State. Turgeon had admitted in his introductory press conference that he had long felt that Lefty hated him, because he never got more than a scowl and a brief handshake when they coached against one another. Driesell admitted that he never was much for fraternizing with the "enemy" and then launched in to several amusing anecdotes that yielded a record for soundbites per minute.

On Turgeon's first coaching gig: "Have you ever been to.. um.. uh... I don't know where that city is where Jacksonville State is!* It's out in the country, man. I don't know how he could ever get anybody to go to school there."

Recalling Turgeon's tactical aptitude: "I know one game we were down there playin' them and we were up 20 at the half. He ran his pick-and-roll play in the second half and he killed us. I put that play in the next year for us."

His role in Turgeon's hiring: "To tell you the truth, I was calling (Kevin Anderson) up to recommend John Lucas. Then I found out he'd already made a decision, so I just told him he made a great choice."

Listen to the entire chat with Lefty Driesell at the CBS Baltimore home page.

That's Lefty for you: gruff to his opponents, bracingly honest even with his friends, and always, always entertaining. Taken all together, however, Lefty's comments have been very complimentary. That's a pretty good start for Turgeon in College Park.

*By the way, Jacksonville State is in Jacksonville, Alabama, population 8,404 as of the 2000 census. The Gamecocks play in the Ohio Valley Conference. They should not be (but often are) confused with the Jackson State Tigers of the SWAC.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: May 13, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:39 pm

Recruiting Notebook: Thornwell on the rise

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The class of 2013 is going to be known for its depth at the wing position, and one player making his way up the rankings is Sindarius Thornwell.

Thornwell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Lancaster (S.C.), makes an immediate impact because of his length and athleticism. He handles the ball and distributes well for someone his size, and is also adept at finishing.

“I’m quick and I can handle the ball,” Thornwell said. “I’m always attacking and I play defense.”

Plenty of colleges have taken notice of the versatile 2013 prospect.

Thornwell currently holds offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee State, Georgia Southern and Charlotte. He also has interest from Louisville, UCF and the entire ACC besides North Carolina and Duke.

Thornwell, who has visited Clemson and South Carolina, knows exactly what he needs in a school.

“I’m looking for playing style, good academics and playing time,” he said. “That’s it.”

2013 big man looking to improve

Most 6-foot-10 sophomores can get by on size and length alone. Andre Walker, on the other hand, is constantly looking to get better.

As it stands, he is a talented but raw big man who can run the floor and finish after he catches it.

“I need to make strong moves and play better defense,” Walker said. “I need to get better, get stronger. I also want to work on my perimeter game. I’m working hard.”

The Clarksburg (Md.) native is hearing from DePaul, Washington State, VCU, Northwestern, George Mason and Maryland.

Whitfield transfers to team with Tyler Lewis

North Carolina is loaded with prospects in the class of 2012. One player flying under the radar is Shane Whitfield, a 6-foot-5 forward.

In an attempt to make a name for himself, Whitfield is transferring next year to Forsyth Country Day School (N.C.). There, he will team up with North Carolina State commit Tyler Lewis in hopes of increasing his recruitment.

“It’s better competition,” Whitfield said. “I want to get better everyday.”

Right now, Whitfield has offers from Delaware, American, Campbell and Holy Cross, with interest from Richmond, Charlotte and East Carolina.

Other notes:

- A Texas team in need of impact players could pick up one this weekend. Recently available Sterling Gibbs and North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow are both visiting Austin this weekend.

- Unsigned 2011 center Daouda Soumaoro is currently on an official visit to Washington. Soumaoro took a trip to St. John’s recently, and said he enjoyed it.

- Top-50 2012 forward Ricardo Gathers is taking an unofficial visit to St. John’s this weekend. The Louisiana native also wants to take a trip to Florida.

Photo: 6manbasketball.com 

Posted on: May 12, 2011 6:48 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 7:08 pm

Third Maryland signee on verge of release

Posted by Jeff Borzello

While Mark Turgeon may have won his first press conference at Maryland, he continues to lose recruits.

First, CBSSports.com broke the news that transfer Wally Judge chose Rutgers over Maryland. Then, Sterling Gibbs and Nick Faust received releases from their letters of intent, and now the third member of the incoming class is on the verge of asking out as well.

Martin Breunig, a 6-foot-9 Germany native who plays at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (Wisc.), plans on reopening his recruitment, sources told CBSSports.com.

“Nothing firm,” one source said in terms of new schools reaching out. “Still a pretty fluid situation.”

When Gary Williams first announced his retirement from Maryland, SJNMA assistant coach Martin Esters said Breunig wouldn’t make a decision until a new head coach was named.

“Williams is obviously a big part of Maryland, but right now we have to wait and see what happens there,” Esters told CBSSports.com at the time. “We can just be patient now.”

When Breunig first committed to the Terrapins, he was also being pursued by Virginia, Saint Louis, Arizona State, Oregon State, UAB and others.

Posted on: May 12, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 7:04 pm

Faust gets release from Maryland

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The hits keep coming for new Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. On Wednesday, Sterling Gibbs’ AAU coach informed CBSSports.com that Gibbs was requesting a release from his letter of intent.

Now, a second Terrapins’ signee is asking out of his commitment.

Nick Faust, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Baltimore City College (Md.), will reopen his recruitment.

Faust confirmed the news to CBSSports.com in a text message.

"Want to weigh all my options for the best fit," he said.  

Faust wouldn't comment on the new schools reaching out to him. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 11, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 4:11 pm

Maryland recruit asks for release


Posted by Jeff Borzello

Wally Judge choosing Rutgers over Maryland was the first recruiting domino to fall after Gary Williams’ retirement.

Another one fell on Wednesday, as Terrapins’ signee Sterling Gibbs has asked for his release from Maryland.

“He’s asking for a release so he can fairly weigh his options,” said Gary Charles, Gibbs’ AAU coach with the New York Panthers. “Until he gets his release, he cannot talk to anyone.

“The same way Maryland had to do what they had to do, Sterling has gotta do what he’s gotta do.”

Since the news broke that Gibbs was opening his recruitment, Charles has heard from several schools. Florida, Louisville, Miami (Fl.), Texas, Seton Hall, Providence and Colorado are some of the schools that have already reached out.

Maryland is also still in the mix for the 6-foot-1 point guard from Seton Hall Prep (N.J).

“Absolutely,” Charles said. “Sterling doesn’t know [head coach Mark] Turgeon from a can of paint, and I don’t think Turgeon knows Sterling either.”

Turgeon did reach out to Gibbs’ family on Tuesday night – which is the first contact Gibbs has had with anyone from Maryland since Williams retired.

The former head coach never called Gibbs to notify him he was retiring.

“Nothing,” Charles said. “Didn’t even contact him.”

While Gibbs does not have a timeline for another decision, Charles said he does want to choose a school before summer school starts in June.

Photo: NJ.com 

Posted on: May 9, 2011 10:09 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 11:00 pm

Wally Judge transfers to Rutgers

Posted by Jeff Borzello

It seemed simple for Wally Judge. Maryland or Rutgers. Gary Williams or Mike Rice.

Of course, Williams then announced his retirement, and everything changed for the former Kansas State transfer. At the time, a source close to Judge said the Washington D.C. native would likely wait and see before deciding on his next destination. 

With Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon accepting the Terrapins’ head coaching position on Monday night, the wait is apparently over.

Judge has picked Rutgers over Maryland, multiple sources told CBSSports.com. 

A key aspect in Judge's decision was likely Rutgers associate head coach Dave Cox. Cox has ties in the D.C. area and even coached in the DC Assault AAU program, which was Judge's travel team in high school. Judge was a McDonald's All-American at Arlington Country Day (Fla.).

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds last season for Kansas State before leaving the team in late January. Judge will sit out next season per NCAA transfer rules, and will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Scarlet Knights. 

Posted on: May 9, 2011 4:00 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:19 pm

Is Mark Turgeon a good fit for Maryland?

Posted by Matt Norlander

UPDATE, 9:02 p.m. ET: Gary Parrish reporting that Mark Turgeon to Maryland is done and the school is expected to make an announcement before the night is over. Multiple reports confirm the information. With the hire, Texas A&M now has to scramble for a coach as soon as possible. Turgeon is likely to be a good fit with Maryland, and here's why ...

Whenever a Big Six head-coaching job opens up, there's a whirring and stirring in the hours and days that follow. Reporters chase leads, searching for a scoop with the names that get tossed in and out of the hopper. Seemingly innocent bystanders (those would be the coaches) become (wanted) trophies, leaders of to-be-built armies. Even if coaches don't want a job they're rumored to be targeted for, they love and invite the attention, for it builds their profile and, most of the time, ensures they get an extended contract and raise at their current school.

This motion of intensity and anxiety lasts for usually a week, then everyone except the school in question -- and its fans -- move on, subconsciously waiting for the news to break. When it does, reaction is met with a 24-hour shelf life of either approval, underwhelm, abstention or disinterest. Local talk radio tries to build an entire week's programming around it, and more power to them, but largely coaching hires don't have the gasoline to last for extended periods of time. (North Carolina State fans, boast the fact that you are the exception. )

Sometimes coaches get swept away and wooed to a new place within a week (see: Mark Anderson at Arkansas); other times searches take much longer thane expected. (See: Oregon, 2010.)

Five days ago Mark Turgeon was living his life -- I presume peacefully and calmly, as he was apparently on vacation -- prepping for his recruiting period in the coming months and generally enjoying his time in College Station, Texas, where he built up a sturdy program in the past four years at Texas A&M.

Now he's arguably become Target No. 1 for Maryland. At 46 year old and with no ACC ties, this is still a job Turgeon would most likely take if Maryland AD Kevin Anderson offered him a hefty contract. I'm told Turgeon very much likes his team that's assembled for next season, but premier ACC jobs only open up once per decade, really. Also, don't forget the money -- because it's either 1 or 1a when a coach debates leaving -- but toss that cash aspect aside for a minute and consider the dichotomy in recruiting bases. Washington, D.C./Baltimore vs. College Station and all that surrounds it. If Turgeon's been able to keep A&M in the leg race of the Big 12 for the past four years with the talent he inherited/was limited to recruit there, then what could he do at Maryland? That'll be his thinking if he does indeed get into deep talks with the brass at Maryland. The "what kind of player can I get?" mindset is always at the top of a crowded list for a coach when considering relocation.

Plus, Turgeon wants to win a title, and it's conceivable to assume he, like most coaches, think it's so, so, so tough to achieve at A&M. At Maryland, the hoops are lower and fewer.

Would he be the right choice, though? Turgeon could be seen as an underwhelming pick for obvious reasons: he coaches at a nondescript, non-traditional college basketball school in the deep of Texas. He's not a sexy name/candidate, even if he does bear a striking resemblance to Ethan from "Lost." (Fun aside: You could argue that when Maryland began its search for Gary Williams successor, Turgeon "wasn't on" their list.) But fans ultimately, even if they begrudge a perceived alienation in coaching choice in the offseason, don't care at all about a coach's background or personality or style if the team ends up winning. Duh.

Thanks to the fantastic and new coaching resume observing tool from KenPom.com, we can see that Turgeon has never had a losing record as a head coach. That's pretty rare; often times new coaches at BCS schools take on a lot of water in their first year, but Turgeon managed a 25-11 record in 2007-08. He's averaged 22.3 wins in nine seasons and never had less than 24 in Big 12 play. Impressive, obviously. Turgeon has proven himself to be a candidate worthy of inclusion on many an athletic director's list (you can read more about how such lists exists and why here, by the way), and it's probable, even if he doesn't get the Maryland job, he'll be hired somewhere else in the next two years if his teams win 20-plus again.

Considering the candidate list out there -- from what I understand, Chris Mooney and Shaka Smart, two hires that would be considered home runs, are not likely to be swayed from their posts in Richmond -- Turgeon has a track record that stacks up extremely favorably to other realistic options. At this point, unless a mammoth dark horse is lurking in the shadows that none one knows -- or can talk -- about, Maryland can't do too much better than Mark Turgeon, even if he doesn't seem like the Big Hire everyone expects Maryland to make.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com