Derik Queen, a Baltimore native and one of the nation’s top basketball prospects in the class of 2024, committed to Maryland on Wednesday, giving Terps coach Kevin Willard a potential cornerstone big man after a winding pursuit.

Queen, a consensus five-star recruit, chose the Terps over Indiana, Kansas and Houston. Maryland was long considered the favorite for the 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All American, but Queen’s decision not to sign his letter of intent during the NCAA’s early signing period in November drew out his recruitment. Only two other top-50 prospects in 247Sports’s composite rankings for the class of 2024 entered the week uncommitted.

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Maryland was among the first schools to seriously recruit Queen, offering him a scholarship the summer before his freshman year of high school. Their relationship endured despite significant shakeups. In July 2021, Queen announced he was leaving St. Frances Academy, where he’d earned MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year honors and played alongside future Maryland guard Jahnathan Lamothe, and transferring to Florida’s Montverde Academy, a perennial national power.

In March 2022, Willard was hired as the Terps’ head coach, leaving Seton Hall to replace Mark Turgeon, who’d stepped down four months earlier. Willard landed three top-150 prospects in his first recruiting class, all from the Baltimore-Washington area, but he lost assistant coach Tony Skinn, Queen’s primary recruiter, after he was named George Mason’s head coach in March.

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“Our first couple recruits, we really tried to get local kids, just to kind of let the fan base know that this area is huge to us,” Willard told reporters during his first season. “We’re going to recruit it, we’re going to bring kids in, we’re going to make sure that they’re the stars, kind of what … I did at Seton Hall.”

In 28 games this season for Montverde, which features three other five-star recruits, including Cooper Flagg, a potential top pick in the 2025 NBA draft, Queen is averaging 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds, both team highs. He is shooting a team-high 69% from the field, according to MaxPreps. Although Queen is not considered exceptionally athletic or a reliable outside shooter, he’s a gifted rebounder and finisher with a well-rounded skill set.

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“Overall, he projects as a skilled facilitating big who can handle, pass, rebound, and create all kinds of mismatch problems because of the rare overlap of those tools. If his shooting, conditioning, and athleticism evolve, it will unlock new levels to his game altogether,” 247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein wrote last year.

Queen, the No. 15 overall player in 247Sports’ composite rankings, is Maryland’s highest-ranked pledge since fellow Baltimore native Jalen Smith signed in 2017. Queen joins guard Malachi Palmer, a three-star guard and top-150 recruit, in the Terps’ class, though he can’t officially sign until mid-April.

Still, Willard will need to add more than just Queen over the next offseason to restore the program to prominence. Maryland, which was picked to finish third in the Big Ten Conference this season, fell to 14-13 overall and 12th in the league after a 74-70 loss Tuesday at Wisconsin. Barring a run in the Big Ten tournament, the team is expected to miss the NCAA tournament for the third time in the past five years.

Even if forward Julian Reese (13.8 points per game) returns for his senior season in College Park, pairing with Queen down low, the Terps’ offense could again struggle. Maryland ranks No. 338 out of 351 Division I teams in 3-point shooting (28.8%) and is set to lose its two most prolific outside shooters, star guard Jahmir Young (21.1 points per game) and starting forward Donta Scott (11.6 points per game).

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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