After committing to Maryland Feb. 23, Class of 2020 guard Aquan Smart said he made his decision because of the relationships he built with those in the program and the opportunity to play immediately.
Smart hopes to add his name to the list of recent standout guards under head coach Mark Turgeon at Maryland. Dez Wells, Melo Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan Jr. have starred under Turgeon.
Smart is averaging better than 20 points per game as a senior at Niles North High School in Illinois. With Cowan in his final season with the Terps, Smart will have an opportunity to play as soon as he steps on campus. Smart believes he can come in and immediately contribute for the Terps.
“I envision myself doing that,” Smart said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 25 of the offense potentially running through him. “That’s what I do now. So, I feel like I could translate that to the next level. With more work, I feel like I can be that type of guy.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Skokie, Ill., native has helped lead Niles North to a 25-5 overall record and a 10-0 conference record, according to MaxPreps. Though Smart has had a very good senior season, he was largely off the radar for high-major schools.
Smart had no connections to Maryland prior to being recruited by the Terps, but he began to get recruited by Turgeon and assistant coach Matt Brady in December.
“This past December Coach Brady called me. … They told me someone who used to recruit me talked to [Brady], so he came to a few of my games and ever since then he’s been on top of me. … There’s always been a natural connection,” Smart said.
“Me and Coach Turgeon’s relationship has gotten better,” Smart added. “We talk almost every day. I know a lot about his family. … We got close because he also started recruiting me as well, not just Coach Brady. That’s why I made my decision so quickly.”
On his official visit, Smart was able to interact with players and staff and watch the Terps defeat Northwestern, 76-67, Feb. 18. Smart watched sophomore Jalen Smith (22 points and 19 rebounds) and Cowan (19 points) dominate the Wildcats.
“It was a good experience with the players, the coaches. The fans were amazing,” Smart said.
But before he witnessed the Terps’ rocking student section and convincing victory, Smart was playing NBA 2K and Madden and bonding with some of the players.
“[I got to know] Reese [Mona] and Travis [Valmon]. I got to play video games with Anthony [Cowan] … and talk to Darryl [Morsell] and a lot of guys,” Smart said. “They really took me in when I was on my visit and that’s why I appreciate that and that’s why I made my decision.”
Smart believed there was always a chance of being recruited by the Terps. He attributed his breakout senior season to his hard work during the summer.
“I put in work countless summers before, but I just felt like I took it to another level this summer,” Smart said. “AAU is really good for me. So, I feel like that was a reason why everything clicked going into my senior season.”
For more from Smart, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Aquan Smart @aquansmart3 on Instagram