Diamond Stone's list of suitors has been whittled to four, but his recruitment is really heating up.
He made the announcement on Twitter himself just two days ago, just before he began his official visit to Maryland on Friday.
Top 4 (No Order) 1. Wisconsin 2. Uconn 3.Maryland 4.Oklahoma State— All Eyes On Me (@Diamond_Stone33) October 16, 2014
Stone is a real gem of a prospect. 247 Sports' composite rankings have him at #5 overall in the class of 2015 and he is also the top center in the nation according to those composite rankings. As a 6'10" boulder with burst and long arms, Stone's big body alone is enough to make him an imposing presence in the paint. But where Diamond really shines is as a shot blocker. Stone's defensive aggressiveness, attentiveness, and overall ability are what sets him apart from the pack. Stone has a passion for defensive play that is rare in young prospects - when you watch his highlights, it's clear that blocking shots and stymieing his opponents is even more satisfying for him than dunking and scoring. If Diamond Stone does choose to become a Terrapin or a Badger, he will be the rock in the middle of their defense from day one.
Stone's defense may be his best asset, but Diamond is a very capable scorer. Stone isn't flashy with the ball and isn't the most skilled big man away from the basket at this point, but he is aggressive with the ball, is explosive off the floor for his size, and has a very good understanding of his strengths - Diamond wants to dunk everything. And it's a great approach for a big guy with very strong hands, wide shoulders, and long arms. Right away, he'll be able to pull down rebounds and go back up for dunks and free throws at the college level. It'll take time for his mid-range game to crystallize, but his work ethic should pull through for him eventually. He probably won't lead the team he does choose in scoring very often, but he won't be a stranger to double-digit scoring nights either. Or double-doubles for that matter, considering how well he rebounds the ball.
Stone's announcement is coming soon. On the day after he tweeted his amended list of possible destinations, he said that he was planning on announcing where he would attend college on November 12th.
Diamond Stone said tonight he plans to make his decision on November 12. OK State made up some ground with visit last weekend.— Mark Miller (@WisBBYearbook) October 17, 2014
What if Diamond Stone Chooses Maryland?
Any coach in America would be happy to land a top 5 recruit. But few would be as happy as Mark Turgeon if they landed one of the top 5 players in the 2015 class. Mark Turgeon's struggles at Maryland have been well-documented, and he is on a pretty warm seat if not an outright hot one. Stone would be a complete game-changer as far as how Turgeon has been perceived by Terps fans during his time at College Park, where he has had trouble with transfers during his tenure.
Michal Cekovsky is projected to be a solid performer for Mark Turgeon, and a combination of two big guys as mobile as Cekovsky and Stone would be really terrifying for opponents within and beyond the Big Ten.
What if Diamond Stone Chooses Wisconsin?
Bo Ryan has always been known as a fantastic coach within the Big Ten. And guys like Jay Bilas have always stumped for him to be listed with the top coaches in the collegiate game more often. His recent trip to the Final Four has served as some vindication for being consistently underrated, and recently his success on the recruiting trail has been more robust as well. Sam Dekker was a big-time recruit, no doubt, but much like Glenn Robinson III Dekker committed to his respective university before he blew up on the national scene - therefore landing the ultra-skilled swing man has been seen as a function of Bo's scouting ability rather than his competitiveness on the recruiting trail. Which isn't to say that Bo hasn't won out over major contenders before, but this is different. Stone not only had offers from but was a very high priority for programs like Kentucky, Connecticut, and Duke - all of whom have won national championships in the last five seasons.
Ryan could really, really use Stone's help too. Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky is a senior and will graduate after this season. Duje Dukan, Wisconsin's backup center, is also a senior and will also leave the program after this season. The biggest returning player they'll have next season will be 6'8" Vitto Brown, who didn't play much as a freshman. Stone would get lots of minutes right away at Wisconsin, because they're going to have a major opening that they'll need a guy his size to fill.
Who Will Diamond Stone Choose?
That's above my pay grade. As of this writing, Connecticut is the favorite according to 247 Sports. But I like the Badgers. Wisconsin has a major need to fill, Bo has had as much success lately as any coach on Stone's list that isn't Kevin Ollie, and the Kohl Center is close enough to Milwaukee for his family to catch all of his games. He said that his list was in no order, but to me it looks an awful lot like Wisconsin is #1 at the moment. Stone is a terrific and tenacious player, and he's going to make whichever team he joins next season much better. Diamond Stone is the sort of bedrock that any coach would love to build the foundation of their team around.