The Maryland men’s basketball team continued its spring cleaning Wednesday, this time with an addition.
Two weeks after Mark Turgeon announced the departure of sophomore forward Justin Jackson and redshirt junior guard Dion Wiley, the team’s seventh-year coach announced that combo guard Serrel Smith was joining a 2018 recruiting class ranked No. 7 nationally.
“Serrel is a natural scorer,” Turgeon said in a statement. “He has great length, terrific quickness and is a really strong defender. He’s a high-character young man who will fit in nicely with the rest of our new recruiting class and our team.”
In the same statement, Smith said: “I’m really excited about the opportunity to attend and play at the University of Maryland. Coach Turgeon is a great coach; he was a point guard in college, I can learn a lot from him and he can help me develop my game.”
The 6-foot-4, 170-pound Smith, who averaged 29.3 points per game at St. Petersburg (Fla.) High, will give more depth to a backcourt that is expected to return three starters — rising juniors Anthony Cowan Jr. and Kevin Huerter, as well as rising sophomore Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph).
Smith is the 13th-best combo guard and 178th-best overall player in the Class of 2018, according to the 247sports Composite rankings.
“It’s an offense that features a lot of screen and rolls where they spread the floor,” Smith said. “It fits my game well and it’s a system that I’m excited to play in. I feel like I can contribute for this team on both ends of the court.”
Smith, who was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and a three-star prospect in a composite of recruiting services compiled by 247sports, had originally committed to Ole Miss but decommitted after the Rebels made a coaching change. He took an official visit to College Park last weekend.
“I enjoyed the visit with my new teammates,” Smith said. “It’s [a] great group and I feel like I’ll fit in really well.”
Said his mother, Tamika Coley: “It was a very comprehensive visit. Coach Turgeon did a great job.”
With the addition of Smith to a recruiting class that already includes McDonald’s All-American five-star forward Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph), as well as four-star wing Aaron Wiggins and four-star combo guard Eric Ayala, the Terps moved up in the 247sports team rankings.
The Terps still have two scholarships available after losing three seniors to graduation after a disappointing 19-13 season and seeing Jackson forgo his final two years of NCAA eligibility to turn pro before Wiley decided to transfer after he graduates next month.
Turgeon is also waiting to hear from Old Dominion graduate transfer Trey Porter, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward who took an unofficial visit last week, as well as from rising sophomore center Bruno Fernando, who Turgeon said last week would declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent.
Coley, who played at Central Florida in the early 1990s and remains the program’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, said she was also impressed with Kyle Tarp, the Terps director of basketball performance.
“He had awesome energy and passion and shared the program’s goals to work to be the best,” said Coley, who coached the girls basketball team at St. Petersburg High. “I really like how he identified a program for every athlete, because each individual needs to take a different approach in strengthening their game.”
Coley said she liked the fact that Turgeon also played point guard in college, at Kansas.
“I like Coach Turgeon’s background, he really has a great understanding of the guard position,” Coley said. “Academically, Maryland has strong programs and a great support system in place. I like how the coaches reassured me as a parent that they will be demanding and expect the best, but at the same time this group shows that they can have fun with each other. Overall this is a great spot for Serrel.”