VIP: fallout after Mikes Jones’ news, key decision looming for Maryland basketball

Maryland has not yet announced, but all signs point to Mike Jones being announced as the next assistant under head coach Kevin Willard in the coming days for the latest boom surrounding basketball. Jones was among the immediate names under consideration to fill the staff vacancy and Duane Simpkins’ hire at American helped move the needle on which direction Willard would go, but Willard’s point of emphasis to replace Skinn was to retain the local footprint.

Jones’ coaching experience at DeMatha, with USA Basketball and connections locally could give Maryland arguably its best local recruiter in years. Aside from money, where Jones made roughly $150,000 less than Skinn last year, the chance for Jones to return to Maryland, a program he’s always held in high regard, helped make this a quick move from Virginia Tech as the staff hits the ground running.

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The expected hire of Jones will undoubtedly be linked to Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, who previously coached the former four-star prospect just miles away from Xfinity Center back at DeMatha. The addition of Jones undoubtedly gives Maryland an inherent connection to the program as Dickinson fields a long list of schools reaching out to the top portal prospect but it’s far from a sure thing that Dickinson lands at Maryland, who admitted he’ll keep his portal pursuit close to the vest. The desire to return closer to home remains prevalent, hence why Maryland and Georgetown were among the immediate names speculated to be involved, but it’ll come at a price. While On3 lists Dickinson’s NIL valuation at $175K, Dickinson is expected to command significantly more in the open market with at least a high six-figure deal. That will test Willard’s perspective regarding NIL, where he isn’t opposed to the idea of players monetizing their brand but is hesitant about getting into a bidding war. Of course, Dickinson’s pursuit also hinges on a final decision from senior forward Donta Scott.

The veteran forward met with Willard on Monday afternoon to rediscuss his future with Scott’s status still up in the air. Scott initially—and briefly— intended on returning alongside Jahmir Young and Hakim Hart before Hart opted to move on and Young needed to be recruited for a fifth year. That changed Scott’s approach and the latest buzz has him now bound for the transfer portal, not pro route, should he move on from Maryland.

But that’s not a sure thing. While other factors are in play, there’s renewed optimism that Scott will indeed return to Maryland for a fifth season while one source said it was a toss-up on Monday afternoon. Scott and Willard got a chance to reconnect on Monday and I’m hearing the two sides will meet once again on Wednesday with a decision expected shortly thereafter.

An answer was expected well before Monday’s meeting, but Willard will need to know soon as the staff awaits the chance to dip back into the portal. The need to refill Scott’s role in the starting five is dire should he move on, but if the Philly native returns for another season, all 13 scholarships for the 2023-24 season would be filled as things currently stand. While roster attrition is still expected, until then, it’s a waiting game as to what Maryland does in the portal.

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