VIP: Queen Official, Frontcourt Shuffle, First Scrimmage

Maryland basketball will host on-campus media day on Thursday with roughly the first month of practice in the books and ahead of the first of two ‘closed’ preseason scrimmages. This weekend also marks a big recruiting weekend for Willard and company with four-star phenom Derik Queen set to officially visit Maryland beginning Friday. We delve into the latest here.

Big weekend set…Maryland basketball has a marquee weekend on the horizon with Montverde Academy (FL) four-star forward Derik Queen making his long-awaited official visit to Maryland. Maryland has been working on finalizing an official visit through the fall and finalized the visit roughly one month ago, shortly after IBG reported a late October official was likely. There’s little doubt that Maryland has asserted themselves as a player in his recruitment as the staff has been able to lay the groundwork frankly ever since Kevin Willard took over as head coach. Assistant Tony Skinn is leading the charge and staying in frequent contact with both Queen and his mother through the fall, a relationship that helped bring Queen’s mom on campus over the summer. After Queen took an official visit to Indiana last month, a source says that this weekend’s visit remains the lone visit set in stone but others are in pursuit. Oregon and Auburn are two more kicking the tires while Arizona has long been linked to Queen, but the latest offer from Kansas is another to keep tabs on with NIL a prevalent factor in his recruitment. Even with the heavy hitters, Maryland remains a key player in the chase with proximity to home a trait that Queen places an emphasis on. This weekend will also give Queen and Maryland a chance to gain clarity on Queen’s intentions for college and whether he’ll become a 2023 or 2024 target. A lot still to play out, but Maryland remains in the thick of the recruitment of the Baltimore native.

Big man recruiting…Maryland officially missed on four-star forward Mouhamed Dioubate after announcing his pledge to Alabama over the weekend. With the staff looking to hit the reset, the second notable frontcourt target is also coming up on an imminent decision with South Kent (CT) four star center Papa Kante set to announce on Thursday at 6 PM. Like Dioubate, Maryland will likely finish runner-up with the Michigan buzz picking up steam. That begs the question—what’s the plan in the frontcourt? Although no plans for a visit, Maryland is keeping tabs on Tallahassee CC forward Chris Okeke. Beyond that, Maryland is staying patient with senior seasons set to begin in a matter of weeks. Maryland will have at least one, and possibly both, starting spots to fill in the frontcourt next season which also opens the door to a portal target later in the cycle.

First scrimmage…with the first month of practice almost in the rear view mirror, Maryland will take on Virginia in its first secret scrimmage on Saturday morning. This will be the first real chance for Willard and the staff to iron out the starting rotation. It’s no surprise who the starting five consists of—Jahmir Young, Don Carey, Hakim Hart, Donta Scott and Julian Reese—but who emerges in the frontcourt? The experience that Patrick Emelien brings in the frontcourt tabs him as the first guy off the bench where his motor and ability to assert himself off the glass aid Maryland’s potential rebounding margin. Noah Batchelor remains another piece who has shown flashes that don’t resemble a freshman acclimating himself to college basketball with his ability to shoot in transition and length to play the three or stretch four also sticking out. In the backcourt, Ian Martinez has turned heads and is be viewed as an asset on defense. Willard will get a chance to work with his rotations and sets against Virginia, but ahead of the scrimmage, the intensity of practice is undoubtedly the most noticeable difference between this staff and previous. The tight-knit group has also benefitted from time off the court to gel more as a unit and while this might not be the most talented team that fans have seen, there’s confidence among each other and the coaching staff that the Terps can surprise folks this season.

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