Maryland on Wednesday announced the signing of forward Jalen Smith, guard Eric Ayala and guard Aaron Wiggins. This marks Turgeon’s sixth consecutive nationally ranked recruiting class, with the 2018 class currently ranked No. 6 overall by 247Sports.com.
“I’m thrilled and excited to welcome Jalen, Aaron and Eric to our Maryland basketball family,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “They are three tremendous young men who are going to make outstanding contributions to both our program and University. I’m eager to begin working with them. I’m proud of the efforts of our coaching staff as they’ve identified three special student-athletes with high character who will fit well within our program’s culture.”
Smith is a 6-foot-10 forward tabbed as a five-star recruit via 247, ESPN and Rivals and was high school teammates of current Terp freshman Darryl Morsell. Smith was ranked No 15 in ESPN’s top-100.
“This is a great school and basketball program,” said Smith. “For me it had a hometown theme and Maryland had my major information technology. I really like the coaches, they always contacted me to check up on me. They were more concerned with me as a person. The coaches are competitive and placed me in a great position to be successful. It’s a great group of players, they have great camaraderie. I’ve been working a lot over the summer on my game, I’ve spent a lot of hours in the gym. I want to me a big man who can do a variety of things that can impact the game.”
Nicknamed “Stix”, the Baltimore, Md. native was named the Baltimore Sun All-Metro Co-Player of the Year, the Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year last season as a junior.
Wiggins is a 6-6 guard from Greensboro, N.C. and consensus four-star recruit named to the All-Under Armour Association Team in 2017.
“The atmosphere at Maryland just felt comfortable for me and fit me best,” said Wiggins. “The program is competitive year in and year out under Coach Turgeon, and I know he’ll make me successful as both a basketball player and a man. Coach Turgeon has guided great players into the pros, and he will help me develop and elevate my game. College Park is an amazing location and Maryland will provide me great opportunities academically and for my future. There’s a great group of players here with chemistry on and off the court, and I’m excited to become a part of it.”
Wiggins was tabbed as the No. 3 prospect out of the state of North Carolina and the No. 9 small forward in the country via ESPN.
Ayala is a 6-5 guard rated as a consensus four-star prospect and as one of the top combo guards in the country. He is rated as the No. 76 recruit in the nation via 247Sports.com.
“This is an exciting step for me,” said Ayala. “I’m looking forward to being a part of this outstanding program. It’s a well-established program, the campus is great and there is a lot of pride in this university. I feel like I will be provided with all the tools to be successful both on and off the court. I’m really excited to play for Coach Turgeon. He coaches with a lot of passion. He always plays his best players. Coach is a great man and throughout this process he has always called in to check on me and it’s never been about basketball. It’s always about my well-being, my family and my academics. The University of Maryland is a big and impressive campus, and to have the opportunity to meet work and learn from many different people across campus and the community is something I’m very excited about.”
Ayala was a standout player at Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Conn. and is spending a prep year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Maryland’s 2018 class is ranked as the No. 6 class in the nation via 247Sports.com.
“I love this class,” said ESPN National Director of College Basketball Recruiting Paul Biancardi. “With all these kids the arrow is pointing up. Mark Turgeon and is staff do a great job identifying and evaluating talent. Mark has had six top-100 players (ESPN) and two other players right on the cusp of that list over the past three recruiting classes. They bring in talent, however, it’s guys who like to work. They have the work ethic Turgeon wants combined with the talent and athleticism to help elevate the program. They all have a learning curve, but Maryland identifies guys that will work and play hard for Turgeon.”
“Maryland signed three very versatile players,” said Rivals National Recruiting Analyst Corey Evans. “It gives coach Turgeon a lot of different options. Each of these three guys are day one producers.”
(Release via Maryland Athletics)