- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2002

The Maryland men's basketball program has received its first commitment for the 2003-04 season. Mike Jones, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard, selected the national champion over other top national programs, including Connecticut, Florida and Boston College.

The senior at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass., is regarded as a top-20 recruit nationally and one of the nation's top prep shooting guards. Jones averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds last season and became a prize college prospect last summer with strong showings in the Nike and Adidas camps. He had listed Maryland as his first choice since early in the recruiting process and decided to make a verbal, non-binding commitment after visiting College Park this month.

"I was impressed with Maryland's academics and the number of basketball players that graduate from there," said Jones, who plans to major in business or graphic design. "I saw that guys improve while they are there and looked at how many have gone to the NBA. Then I went to the campus, and that really put me over the top."

Jones, who was recruited primarily by Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos, also considered playing time before making a decision. There will be plenty of opportunity after next season, when the Terrapins lose five seniors and four probable starters, including shooting guard Drew Nicholas. Jones is considered a versatile wingman who also could play some small forward.

College coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until they officially sign, which should take place in the early fall signing period. Jones is the first of a maximum of four players allowed by NCAA rules, coming in on scholarship in the fall of 2003.

"He's got NBA athletic ability," Thayer coach Rob Dixon said. "He is very fluid in a way like a Clyde Drexler. He shoots the ball very well. He just has to close the gap between learning and his physical ability. He's put on about 20, 25 pounds. Physically, he can play right in college now."

The Terps have a five-man class coming in for this season, led by junior college All-American forward Jamar Smith, along with four freshmen: forwards Travis Garrison (DeMatha High School) and Nik Caner-Medley, point guard John Gilchrist and shooting guard Chris McCray (Fairmont Heights High).

The five will be on the team in the first exhibition game at Comcast Center against the Harlem Globetrotters on Nov.12. The building will officially debut in the Terps' regular-season opener Nov.24 against Miami (Ohio).

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