CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.--The recruitment of Esa Ahmad is Maryland’s first fork in the road as a member of the Big Ten.
The program is reaching into Ohio and trying to snatch a four-star recruit out from under the nose of the traditional basketball powers in the Midwest.
Succeed in bringing him to College Park and start off with a major victory. Fail and it’s a reminder of what you’re up against in the conference.
Ahmad spoke with Comcast SportsNet on Wednesday, saying that he is aiming to cut his list down to “six or seven” schools by July and make his college decision in August.
So what are Maryland’s chances of making that final list?
“It’s a real high percentage,” Ahmad told CSN.
He has already made a visit to campus, stopping by on his way to an AAU event in Hampton, Va., in May. He has continued to remain in close contact since.
“Even before the visit, I had a close relationship with Maryland. They had an in-home visit with me,” Ahmad said. “I talk to Coach [Dustin] Clark almost every day. So me and him are real close.“
Ahmad is a very postionally versatile player for his size. At 6-7, 210 pounds, he is comfortable backing down into the post, attacking the rim off the dribble, or working in the mid-range. He can even handle the ball and begin the offense if asked.
“They see me playing the three,” Ahmad said of Maryland. “Also, they see me playing wherever they need me to play, so I’m happy with that.”
“Wherever they need me” could mean a lot of different things in Mark Turgeon’s secondary-break offense, which works best when there are at least three capable ball handlers on the floor.
As we saw last season with Seth Allen, Dez Wells, and Jake Layman on the floor at the same time, whoever corrals the rebound helps the Terrapins get out on the break quickly and offensive opportunities are born from that.
Ahmad could slot in behind Layman and would fill that role full-time once the latter graduates.
The Ohio native is planning visits over the summer including to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State.