Consensus four-star combo guard Eric Ayala committed the Maryland men’s basketball program as part of its 2018 class, he announced Oct. 14. Ayala chose the Terps over Miami and Oregon.
The 6-foot-5, 180 pound Ayala became the third player to join Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon’s 2018 class. Baltimore power forward Jalen Smith (Mount St. Joseph) and North Carolina wing Aaron Wiggins committed earlier this year. Ayala is rated 76th nationally on 24/7 Sports' composite rankings.
Ayala took an official visit to College Park, Md. along with fellow guard targets Devon Dotson and Keldon Johnson during the weekend of Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Ayala's commitment came after Dotson chose Kansas over Maryland Oct. 13.
Ayala, a native of Wilmington, Del., is attending IMG Academy in Florida this year after previously spending parts of his high school career at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut and Sanford School in Delaware.
Ayala starred on Delaware-based AAU program WeR1, which competes in the Under Armour Association (UAA). WeR1’s 17-and-under squad went 13-3 this year en route to a 17U UAA title. Ayala’s WeR1 team also won the 17U title during the summer of 2016.
Ayala averaged 14.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for WeR1 this year, according to UAA’s website. He shot 42 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range. He also attempted 113 free throws, easily the most on his team.
In highlights, Ayala shows toughness and craftiness in both getting into the paint and finishing
at the rim
; he also shows slick
ball-handling and passing
. It remains to be seen how Turgeon plans to utilize Ayala alongside current Terps guards Anthony Cowan, Darryl Morsell and Dion Wiley, but Ayala’s ability to get into the paint could help open up opportunities on the wing for shooters like Kevin Huerter and Wiggins.
Turgeon has work to do in completing his 2018 class, as another scorer on the wing would be helpful. Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 216 pound shooting guard from Sterling, Va., is reportedly considering Kentucky, N.C. State and Texas in addition to Maryland. Jairus Hamilton, a 6-foot-8, 209 pound small forward from North Carolina, is visiting College Park Oct. 13-15,
according to his high school coach
Turgeon could use another center with Michal Cekovsky graduating after this season. Ivan Bender is the only center set to be part of the 2018-19 team, though Bruno Fernando, Joshua Tomaic and Smith might all be able to play the position to some extent, as well. The Terps are recruiting 7-foot, 210 pound center Moses Brown (Jamaica, N.Y.), who visited Maryland Sept. 22-24.
Johnson is rated 14th on 24/7 Sports’ composite rankings; Brown, 15th; Hamilton, 66th.
With Maryland only using 11 of 13 available scholarships this season and Jared Nickens, Sean Obi and Cekovsky all due to graduate after the year, that leaves Turgeon with five open scholarships for the 2018-19 season heading into the early signing period in November. Smith, Wiggins and Ayala will account for three of those scholarships.