Maryland Basketball Inks Consensus Top-20 Class

On the first day of the early signing period, Maryland basketball inked a consensus top-20 class in Kevin Willard’s first cycle as head coach.

St. Frances guard Jahnathan Lamothe became the first signee announced after signing his letter of intent. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard kicked off Willard’s recruiting class after announcing his commitment shortly after his June 2 official visit to Maryland. Assistant Tony Skinn led the charge for the Baltimore standout to give the future backcourt a versatile guard that can play the one or two. Becoming a hometown star factored into Lamothe’s decision to opt for the Terps. “They’re younger. They know us better and their energy is contagious,” Lamothe said at the time. “Coach [Kevin] Willard is with the guys all the time working out, eating and coach [Tony] Skinn, Tevon Saddler, coach [David] Cox all have a lot of energy.” Lamothe is rated a three-star prospect and an 85 overall by On3, sitting as the third-best prospect in Maryland.

Four-star guard Jamie Kaiser not only became the second verbal commit in Maryland’s class, but he became the second signee announces by the program. Kaiser’s signature was one that the staff had to work hard for back in the summer, though. After first drawing a football offer from the Terps, Kaiser made the eventual decision to opt for basketball as more high majors began sniffing around the Bishop Ireton product.

Wisconsin was among the early contenders for Kaiser, but a longstanding relationship with assistant David Cox helped give the Terps an ‘in.’ Once head coach Kevin Willard and the staff offered, Maryland was able to host Kaiser and his family for a one-day official visit in what was expected to a decision shortly thereafter. That took a detour after schools like UCLA and UNC began showing interest, prolonging Maryland’s recruiting efforts in search of commitment number two. But after heading out west to the 3SSB tournament, Kaiser and his dad opted to trek to College Park for a brief unofficial visit as the staff worked the close. Less than a week later, Kaiser became the first consensus four-star commitment for Willard after topping Virginia and Indiana in the end. “Mostly the family. They’ve been recruiting me since the beginning of my junior year with the old staff but when coach [Kevin] Willard came over, I had known him since he was at Seton Hall and when coach [David] Cox was at Rhode Island, he was recruiting me,” Kaiser said after announcing his decision. Kaiser enrolled at IMG Academy weeks later where he’ll suit up for his senior season. Kaiser is rated a four-star prospect and a 95 overall by On3, sitting as the 47th-best prospect nationally.

The commitment of Kaiser helped set the stage for Maryland’s this commitment this cycle, Paul VI four-star guard DeShawn Harris-Smith. Maryland battled Indiana and Villanova in the end, but just like Lamothe, the consistency from assistant Tony Skinn helped reel the star Virginia guard to College Park. His commitment and eventual signing gave Maryland its first ever PVI prospect, a breakthrough that head coach Kevin Willard aspired for when frequently mentioning his emphasis on local recruiting. “I just like to have an opportunity to stay home and play in front of my friends and family. They want me to come in and play mostly point guard which I think is my best chance of making it to the next level. Maryland is recruiting all my DMV guys so I would know my freshman class really well and will have good chemistry from the beginning,” Harris-Smith said over the summer. Harris-Smith is rated a four-star prospect and the 43rd-best prospect nationally, according to On3.

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