Maryland target Ike Cornish, a consensus four-star guard playing his high school ball in South Carolina, knows how special it would be to follow in the footsteps of fellow Baltimore natives Jalen Smith and Darryl Morsell with the Terps, but Maryland is just one of six schools he’s considering.
The 6-foot-6 Cornish recently cut his list to Georgetown, Maryland, Rutgers, St. John’s, Virginia Tech and Xavier. The Class of 2021 guard is planning on announcing his decision on his birthday, Aug. 21. Terps head coach Mark Turgeon already has one commitment for his 2021 recruiting class in Baltimore forward Julian Reese (St. Frances).
Cornish began his high school career at Dulaney High School, playing for the Lions as a freshman in 2017-18 and as a sophomore in 2018-19, and transferred to Legacy Early College in City View, S.C., ahead of his junior year. Cornish was offered a scholarship by the Terps in April. What would it mean to keep the Baltimore pipeline going after what Morsell and Smith, both friends of his, have been able to accomplish in College Park, Md.?
“They both did [well] at Maryland all the years that they were there,” Cornish said on Glenn Clark Radio May 18. “It’s like, it’s your hometown. You’re not even really going far. It’s cool to watch them. The fans in Maryland, if you’re from Maryland and the fans in Maryland are trying to get you to go to Maryland, then there’s no other fans you want to get like that.
“Any other school I have, all the fans, they’re trying to get me to come to their school, but they know I’m not really from there so they’re trying to push even harder. But Maryland fans are just different because I’m from here and everything. They keep just pushing hard and everything.”
Cornish knows Morsell and Smith through his brother, Josh, who played at Calvert Hall and Dulaney before starting his college career at Southern Utah (he recently transferred to Bowie State). Morsell went to middle school with Josh and played in a couple of tournaments with him, while Smith has long been a family friend.
Cornish remembers attending Calvert Hall-Mount Saint Joseph games when his brother played for the Cardinals and Morsell and Smith played for the Gaels.
“I would always go to the games,” Cornish said. “I was in eighth grade then, but I still talked to them and everything and we had a good relationship. Whenever I’d go to the games, I’d go back in the locker room, I’d say what’s up to them first because I know our relationship was close.”
But should Cornish choose Maryland, neither Morsell nor Smith will still be on the team once he gets to campus. Smith entered the 2020 NBA Draft, while Morsell is graduating this summer and will play for the Terps one final time in 2020-21, assuming there’s a season. But a friend who will be there is Reese, who committed to Maryland May 10.
Cornish has known Reese since eighth grade and have played together some since then. Cornish says the 6-foot-9 Reese, who won Baltimore Catholic League Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2019-20, is easy to play because they play different positions. Reese says he’s not sure what school Cornish is leaning toward, but Cornish says he’s made his Maryland pitch.
“That’s been my guy since eighth grade. We basically stay in touch and I know when he saw I got the Maryland offer, he hit me up,” Cornish said. “This is when he wasn’t even committed yet. But he hit me up trying to push me leaning that way because he knew he was leaning that way. He was definitely on me hard. He talked to me like every day. … He’s most definitely pushing me toward Maryland.”
Cornish met Maryland assistant coach Bino Ranson in eighth grade at one of his brother’s games. Ranson told Cornish, then in eighth grade, that he was also on his radar. Ranson periodically visited Dulaney to check in on him and the rest of the Lions.
“He always would pop up, always would send a text after supporting us, supporting our team and everything,” Cornish said. “Me and Coach Bino’s relationship is very close. I talk to him. He talks to my parents a lot and everything. That’s how I became close with Coach Turgeon, too – through him. It all works out.”
Cornish touched on some other topics as well …
On why he left Baltimore for Legacy Early College:
“I like the competition in Baltimore and everything, but I just basically wanted to get out and play against national competition around the whole country and basically show my talents at a higher level. … Legacy Early College was a good fit for me because they had an opening at my position. They had a great, great type of education there. It wasn’t a big school, it was actually a small school. I feel like it was just a great move for me to move down there. I’ve just been getting a lot better and getting a lot stronger and everything. It’s basically helped me a lot.”
On what he misses about Baltimore:
“I honestly miss a lot of my friends and everything, but I basically just miss the competitive drive everywhere you go. If you go to a court around the street and there’s people there, it’s going to be competitive. They’re not going to let you get anything easy. The DMV area, especially the Baltimore area, is very aggressive when you play. They don’t give you nothing easy.”
On the relationship he has with his brother, Josh:
“Most people have trainers and everything. [Josh] has basically always been my trainer. I never really had a trainer. He never had a trainer, either. He trained himself and then he trained me. He’s a hard worker. He always works hard. We’re only two years apart, so we’re always together. We can go to a lot of events together since we’re almost the same age and everything. He’s basically like my best friend, really, and my trainer all in one. If I’m doing something wrong, he’s going to get on me just like my father would. I’m just thankful for him.”
For more from Cornish, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ike Cornish