IMG Academy Center Braden Pierce Commits to Maryland

Maryland has a piece of the answer to the future of the frontcourt now in the fold.

IMG Academy (FL) center Braden Pierce has announced his commitment to Maryland fresh off his official visit to Maryland. The 7-foot, 230-pound center picked Maryland over Missouri, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Pitt and NC State among others as head coach Kevin Willard now has his first big man in the class.

After Willard and assistant coach David Cox trekked down to IMG this fall to check out Pierce on the postgrad team, Maryland became the newest school to jump into the picture after extending a verbal offer back on December 23. “He came to IMG I guess earlier, maybe September or October. They saw me play and they liked how I was developing, and he said they really needed a big for next year,” Pierce told IBG days after. Pierce then took in Maryland’s win over Michigan after traveling to the area for the R1A Classic over the weekend of January 21 before following through on his official this past weekend.  “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,” Pierce added.

Assistant coach David Cox did well to build a relationship with the Woodstock, GA native. “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.” Now, Maryland bolsters its 2023 class with Pierce in the fold. Willard and the staff have already finalized their backcourt with Jahnathan Lamothe, Jamie Kaiser and Deshawn Harris-Smith all signed for next season. Maryland could return Julian Reese next season but with Donta Scott and Patrick Emilien exhausting eligibility, Willard is tasked with replenishing the rotation.

After flourishing with ATL Xpress on the trail, Pierce reclassified into the 2023 class where he joined IMG Academy’s prep team for the 2022-23 season. Pierce was limited during last weekend’s tournament due to an ankle and knee injury but was able to flash his dominance inside, which he credits to his improved athleticism. “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. The IMG big man rotated into the game to give the Ascenders length at the rim, a trait that will fill a key need in College Park.

Pierce’s commitment now gives Maryland a consensus top-15 class.

Pierce is rated a three-star prospect and an 89 overall by On3, sitting as the 15th-best center in the country.

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