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Recruiting rundown: Soft verbals affecting Maryland, Texas A&M


Mike Miller

Unlike college football recruiting, college basketball recruiting is fairly clear cut when a player makes a decision. Football’s soft verbals, silent verbals and the like generally do not exist in roundball, where players are either pledged, signed or open for recruitment.

With that said, every so often there is an odd story in the gray area of committed recruits, and Sam Cassell Jr., the son of ex-NBA All-Star Sam Cassell, is like that. After an earlier official trip to Maryland’s campus, and by all measures looking like a quality solution to a guard depth problem on the Terrapins’ roster, Cassell the younger gave a verbal commitment to Maryland, over other solid programs like Villanova, South Florida, UConn and others.

Cassell Jr., a fifth year prep player at Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), is a competent scorer, with enough lead guard skills to be considered a jack-of-all trades combo guard. He was solid for Baltimore Elite over the summer, and earned a variety of high-major scholarship offers.

A variety of outlets reported Cassell Jr.’s commitment to Maryland on Sunday, and Cassell Jr. confirmed the news, talking congratulations from numerous people, including current Maryland players, on Twitter. On Tuesday, Sam Cassell (the father) told, not so fast, as Ben Standig quoted him as saying, “He’s considering Maryland. Maryland is still one of his top schools, but it’s not guaranteed that he’s going there. This is coming from his father, not one of his friends.”

It certainly seems that there is a disconnect between father and son. Cassell Jr. does need a parent’s signature on his letter of intent, when he makes his commitment official during the April regular signing period, which starts April 11. In all, Maryland could use a guard with Cassell Jr.’s skillset, but it appears as if he neglected to get his father’s blessing before making his pledge. It still seems like a distinct possibility that Cassell Jr. will end up at Maryland when all is said and done.

In similar odd recruiting news, Faith Baptist (Fla.) shooting guard Shawn Smith committed to Texas A&M. The reason Smith’s call to become an Aggie is an oddity is that he was previously committed to Missouri, and had not called off that pledge. So, in effect Smith just flipped from the Tigers to the Aggies, which is also common in football, but rarely happens in hoops.

Smith, a former top-150 prospect, is talented at 6-3, but has played at numerous high schools, and was also committed to Central Florida, before Missouri. Smith has reportedly not tripped to Texas A&M, which is a red flag when it comes to a commitment sticking. It’s not clear that Smith will pick up sticking to a school for a four year term with his decision to commit to the Aggies.

It’s a gamble to take a player like Smith, with a penchant for transferring schools and de-committing, but Texas A&M was in a position to do so with two top-100 backcourt players already signed in J-Mychal Reese and Alex Caruso. That’s to say that if Smith blows up in their face, they will have depth to overcome the loss. Also, Naji Hibbert recently transferred, and Smith could be able to fill that void.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.