- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Maryland basketball team was in the final stages of officially signing five recruits yesterday, the first day of the fall signing periods.

The class includes three big men in 7-foot center Will Bowers from Archbishop Spalding High School in Anne Arundel County and a pair of 6-10 power forwards, Ekene Ibekwe from California and Hassan Fofana, who is playing at Virginia's Hargrave Military Academy.

They will be joined by two 6-4 shooting guards, Mike Jones from Massachusetts and Californian Darryl Strawberry Jr., son of the former major league outfielder.

All five are considered top 100 recruits by most prep magazines and Web sites, with Jones and Ibekwe in the top 25. Because of NCAA rules, Maryland coach Gary Williams cannot comment on recruits until they are officially signed, which should occur today. But the coach feels that the exposure of two consecutive Final Fours and a national championship have made Maryland more marketable.

"We didn't have that mass following, and that's what's changed probably," Williams said. "You can go recruit in California now and have a presence there. They have seen you play. They know how you play."

This will be the second five-player class in as many years as the roster that won the title goes through massive turnover. The Terps lose five seniors after this season, and next season's team figures to have only two players Andre Collins and Mike Grinnon who have been in College Park more than one season.

Jon Siegel


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