What I’d like to figure out is precisely what Maryland got on top of that – any extras that transformed this from a good deal into a great deal for the school.
Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson scouted St. Frances vs. Mount St. Joseph on Wednesday. How did Terps targets Dwayne Morgan and Phil Booth fare with coaches from Maryland, Indiana, UConn, UNLV, Temple and other schools looking on?
Matt Bracken: A packed house at St. Frances this week was treated to an entertaining Baltimore Catholic League game between the No. 1 Panthers and the No. 2 Gaels. Turgeon and Ranson had a front-row view of a 58-57 win for St. Frances that featured plenty of Division I talent. With St. Frances' Tevon Saddler (UNC-Greensboro) and Maurice White (Loyola) and Mount St. Joseph's Kam Williams (Ohio State) already committed, the talent evaluators in the gym were focused on Booth and Morgan.
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As a sophomore at City last year, Morgan was often relegated to a supporting role in a guard-dominated offense, with much of his offensive production coming on putbacks. St. Frances has a pair of excellent senior guards in Saddler (19 points) and White (16 points), but Morgan's role has expanded significantly with the Panthers. On Wednesday, Morgan demonstrated an ability to put the ball on the floor and do most of his damage from the perimeter. Most 6-foot-7 players in high school would be encouraged to play with their backs to the basket, but St. Frances coach Nick Myles has allowed Morgan to play his projected college position -- small forward.
Morgan, who scored 13 points against Mount St. Joseph, has 3-point range and hit several mid-range jumpers during Wednesday's game. His wing skills are undeniably impressive. At this point, his five-star ranking is more about upside than actual production. But it makes sense that a first-year Panther -- even one as skilled as Morgan -- would defer to Saddler and White. Morgan plays an integral role in St. Frances' system, and you'd expect a dramatic jump statistically when this is his team next winter.
Booth, meanwhile, struggled with his shot against St. Frances. The Gaels had a 22-4 run in the third quarter fueled by the shooting of Williams and the facilitation of Booth. I saw Mount St. Joseph's home win over St. Frances last year, and thought Booth was a combo guard that was more of a 2 than a 1. After Wednesday, I think it might be the opposite. The 6-foot-2 junior said after the game that he worked hard during the offseason on his point-guard skills, which appeared evident to everyone in attendance. I thought he looked the part of a high-major floor general Wednesday, and I know from last year that he can be a primary scorer if called upon.
From a recruiting perspective, Maryland is in Morgan's top six along with Indiana, Missouri, Seton Hall, South Florida and UNLV. He doesn't have a timeline for a decision, but I get the sense that the Terps are in a decent spot (along with a couple other schools on the list). With the caveat that I'm far from a scout, I think he makes sense for Maryland as an heir apparent to Nick Faust or Jake Layman at the 3. Booth's potential place on Maryland's roster might be a little less clear, thanks to the Terps loading up on guards (Seth Allen, Roddy Peters, Melo Trimble) who can play the 1 or the 2. The Gaels junior said he hasn't narrowed his list of schools, which includes Georgetown, Indiana, Maryland, SMU, Temple, Villanova, Virginia Tech and several others.
No matter what happens with Morgan and Booth, it continues to be clear that Maryland is making local recruiting a priority. In a steamy gym in East Baltimore on a frigid January night, Turgeon and Ranson were front and center for the JV and varsity games between the BCL's biggest rivals. And the hundreds of fans in the stands and around the court couldn't help but notice Maryland's representation.