Just a day removed from an official visit, 4-Star 2018 forward Jalen Smith took to Twitter to announce his commitment to the Maryland Terrapins. The 6-foot-10 big man let the college basketball world off easy, arriving at a swift, and usurping decision. Smith spurned offers from Villanova, Virginia, Florida, Georgetown and Syracuse, among others, before electing to take his talents to hometown College Park.
Smith’s story of recruitment contains no twists. Heralding from Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore, the forward has always been right in the school’s backyard. This afforded the Terps an advantage in the long game, first offering Smith back in October of 2015. Smith was pleasantly caught off guard by Maryland’s quick interest.
“I was very shocked, I didn’t know they were going to offer me this early,” Smith told the Baltimore Sun. “They just told me just to stay humble, keep my head and keep doing what I’m doing.”
That’s just what Smith did. Now a top 25 player in the 2018 class, the attention has certainly paid off.
But Turgeon and co made sure to leave nothing to chance. Their ace in the hole was found in another 4-star prospect out of Mount St. Joseph by the name of Darryl Morsell. Morsell, a top prospect of the 2017 class, committed to Maryland back in February. Last spring, Smith talked about the Terrapin influence his former high school teammate was wielding.
“Coach (Mark) Turgeon wants me bad,” Smith told Rivals. “He got my teammate Darryl Morsell there with him and they have been hounding me to get there ever since.”
This past weekend, the program took it a step further. Morsell himself served as a host for the visit, ultimately playing a major role in landing Smith.
“He’s like one of my deciding factors, going there to play with him again,” Smith told the Baltimore Sun.
Last year Smith really turned heads with his electric play, averaging 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. The junior dominated, capping the season off with the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year. Additionally, Smith was named USA Today’s Maryland Player of the Year and First Team headliner.
Smith employs a technical approach at the rim. He has soft hands and stellar coordination, leading to finesse finishes or tenacious slams when applicable. That rim proficiency extends to the other end of the court as well. Quick to rise, Smith also utilizes a sizable wingspan to turn away would be scorers in the paint.
For Smith to ascend to the level of college elite, strength and conditioning will have to do its part. It’s not by mistake or irony that he has earned the nickname “Sticks.” Despite that 6-foot-10 frame, the forward hits the scales at a listed 195 pounds. Thankfully for Smith, the foundation is there. How he molds it will go a long way toward his future success.
Smith joins fellow 4-star forward Aaron Wiggins to round out the Maryland 2018 class. With their remaining scholarships, the Terrapins will now shift the focus to top targets Immanuel Quickley, Moses Brown, and Keldon Johnson.