If one of the major criticisms of Gary Williams late in his Maryland tenure was his inability to land enough of the D.C. area's elite prospects, then the greatest achievement of the new Terps staff thus far has to be its success reversing that trend.
Coach Mark Turgeon again showcased his ability to secure top local talent on Friday, landing a commitment from elite shooting guard prospect Dion Wiley of Potomac High School in Maryland. Wiley, a consensus top 50 prospect in the class of 2014, chose the Terrapins over the likes of Indiana, Florida Georgetown and Texas.
"At the end of the day, the kid liked the relationship he had with Coach Turgeon and Coach Dalonte Hill and the whole staff, really," Team Takeover coach Keith Stevens said. "Dion is one of those kids that doesn't like all the attention. He felt a comfort level there, he felt like those guys can get him better and he felt like that was the best place for him. He saw no reason to let it linger on."
Whereas Williams had a notoriously tepid relationship with D.C.-area AAU programs and won despite not landing many of their top prospects, Turgeon has made it a priority from day one to keep local talent home. He kept well-connected Bino Ransom on his staff as the lone holdover from the Williams regime and plucked Washington D.C. native and former D.C. Assault head coach Dalonte Hill away from Kansas State.
The results in the class of 2013 and 2014 have been especially encouraging so far.
Turgeon's two incoming freshmen for next season are highly touted point guard Roddy Peters and center Damonte Dodd, both of whom played AAU ball for the DC Assault. In addition to Wiley, Turgeon has also already landed promising combo guard Romelo Trimble of the DC Assault for his 2014 class.
It's significant for Turgeon that Wiley plays for Team Takeover. The presence of Hill on Turgeon's staff gave him a leg up recruiting DC Assault players, but Wiley's commitment suggests the Maryland staff will be able to tap into the pipeline of the D.C. area's other talent-rich AAU program.
"They've done a really good job of finding their niche in the area," Stevens said. "What they've done is collectively targeted guys, figured out who is helping them make decisions and built relationships with them. They've made the people around the kids feel comfortable that the staff would make kids into better players and help turn them into good young men also."
What Maryland is getting in Wiley is an elite shooter who is well-rounded enough to also create off the dribble for himself and his teammates. Wiley is averaging a team-high 14.1 points per game for Team Takeover this spring and is shooting over 48 percent from behind the arc.
Consider that Maryland could potentially still have Nick Faust, Dez Wells, Seth Allen and Peters on the perimeter by the time Wiley and Trimble get to college, and it's clear Turgeon is assembling quite a backcourt.
Maryland may not yet have rejoined the elite under Turgeon, but his ability to secure top local talent has the Terps moving in that direction.