Frontcourt Target Has Maryland High on List Heading into Official

IMG Academy’s post grad team was able to hold off Mount Zion Prep in their first game of the second annual R1A Classic. Three-star center Braden Pierce, a 7-foot, 230-pound center, was limited in the win after recovering from a knee and ankle injury suffered late last month, but the senior big man has still seen noticeable strides in his game through his senior season.

“I’d say like my explosiveness. It’s tough to show now, but I’d just say being aggressive, rebounding in the post, blocking shots,” Pierce told IBG. His athleticism coupled with his size is a big reason why Maryland has been interested through the winter with assistant David Cox leading the charge. Pierce was targeting January to eventually make it to Maryland for a visit and with this weekend’s tournament, he and his parents took advantage of being in the area as they made their way to campus for Thursday night’s win over Michigan.

“I liked it a lot. I know the students weren’t back but it was a really good environment. I talked to [Cox]. I toured campus a little bit before then talked with coach [David] Cox a little bit after too. I liked the campus. I’m going back for the official next weekend so I’ll see more.”

Head coach Kevin Willard has connected with Pierce a handful of times since the offer while Pierce got a chance to know assistant coach Grant Billmeier better during the visit, but the impression that Cox has left is one that has the Terps well positioned. “I have a great relationship with coach Cox. He’s just been telling me that I would help fit their style of play on offense and really fill a need they have. They told me to watch Julian Reese play a little bit. That’d be my role. They’ve talked about how coach Grant [Billmeier] is a really good development coach.”

While he got a chance to watch Maryland’s pace of play up close, he’ll look to sit down with the staff next weekend to delve into the play style further. “I just want to see a little bit more of their style of play, see their academic advisors.”

While Maryland isn’t the only school in the hunt, Pierce admitted “there’s a possibility” that his recruitment is over by next weekend. “I’ve been talking to Missouri a little bit, South Carolina and Pitt. [Missouri] wants me to schedule an official.” So far, no visits are planned after Maryland, giving the Terps the first crack.

“I’m going to see how Maryland goes then go from there.”

Pierce is rated a three star prospect and an 88 overall by On3, sitting as the 15th-best center in the country.

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