St. Frances SF Dwayne Morgan announced today live on DMVElite.com that he will spend his next four years playing basketball for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. UNLV was the first team to offer Morgan a scholarship and had been in constant contact with him throughout the whole process. After his visit out west in January, Morgan said that it felt like home and it all but sealed the deal on his decision. Maryland was also in the running and Bino Ranson took in many St Frances games during the past year, but they didn't make the same push the Georgetown or UNLV did down the homestretch. Morgan said that Maryland barely contacted him recently and when he made his choice, there was no Maryland hat even in the picture.
The Terrapins may have sensed Morgan was set on UNLV, but at the same time, I don't think he was ever that high of a priority to them. The idea of yet another highly ranked SF getting away from the Terps is a scary thought for their fans after seeing Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, and Donte Greene all blow up en route to heading to the NBA, but Morgan isn't at their level - at least not yet. Morgan is a good recruit, but he isn't a program changer. More importantly, Maryland has their eyes on another local top 30 player in the country and that is Dion Wiley. With Melo Trimble already on board for the class of 2014as well, Maryland has plenty of young perimeter players already.
Assuming Alex Len heads to the NBA draft this year (or even next year), the Terrapins have room for 3 scholarship players on their roster by the time the 2014-15 season comes along. The depth chart will look something like this (a Pe'Shon Howard-less roster!):
PG - Roddy Peters (SO)/Seth Allen (JR)
SG - Nick Faust (SR)/Melo Trimble (FR)
SF - Dez Wells (SR)/Jake Layman (JR)
PF - Evan Smotrycz (SR)/Charles Mitchell (JR)
C - Shaquille Cleare (JR) /Damonte Dodd (SO)
Dion Wiley is said to be a Maryland lean at this point and has been seen at plenty of Maryland games. Terps have shown mutual strong interest in him and were said to be in attendance for over 20 of his games this season. Just my personal opinion, but Wiley is a better player than Morgan at this point and is also ranked higher according to ESPN. So if Maryland feels comfortable about securing Wiley, and I think they do, then there is less of a need for Morgan.
Furthermore, with Dez Wells and Jake Layman, small forward looks to be their strongest position in the 2014-15 season. Wells could enter the draft a year early potentially, but Layman should still be there (unless Jimmy Dykes has his way and he goes pro) and projects to be a excellent player by the time he is an upperclassmen. Maryland will also have a very strong stable of guards, but when it comes down to it, they'll take Wiley over Morgan because that appears to be their preference.
More importantly is the fact that the Terrapins will need to use at least one scholarship on a big man. They could really use a shotblocker type to protect the rim and also a guy who can play more of a stretch forward role. Smotrycz will fill in as a stretch forward for the next two years and Layman should also be worthy of minutes at PF, but bringing in a big time athlete at that position should be a priority.
Right now the Terps are high on Abdul-Malik Abu who fits the mold and they have also shown interest in Chinanu Onuaku, more of a center type who can provide a strong defensive presence inside.
It looks like Wiley plus a big is the plan to fill two current two scholarships that they have available, while they could also look to bring in a Juco point guard once Alex Len makes it official that he's heading to the NBA. Terp fans should not be disappointed that a local star got away because it was only to make room for another local star that they believe is better. The idea of a Peters/Trimble/Wiley starting perimeter is exactly what Terps fans should be excited for - three local players that can really fill up the scoreboard. Trimble and Wiley are arguably the two best class of 2014 scorers in the DMV area and they will also provide some much needed outside shooting. The future is still bright in College Park and there are more exciting times ahead.