Michigan's 'DMV Boys' ready to show Maryland what it's missing

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
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The DMV boys are heading back to the D.C. area.

For the first time since arriving in Ann Arbor, freshmen Hunter Dickinson and Terrance Williams II will get the chance to return closer to home when No. 16 Michigan travels to Maryland this week.

“I for sure want to go back there and see some of the DMV,” Dickinson said Tuesday. “I do miss it.”

Michigan forward Terrance Williams II (5) reacts to a dunk by forward Isaiah Livers (2) in the second half of a game against Ball State on Dec. 2.

But not only will Thursday’s New Year's Eve tilt serve as a homecoming for Dickinson and Williams. It will also give the Terrapins a glimpse of what they missed out on by letting the two former top-100 recruits leave the D.C., Maryland, Virginia region.

Williams said he garnered interest from Maryland as a local product who starred at Gonzaga High in Washington, D.C. less than 10 miles away from campus. He was even high school teammates with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon’s son, Will, for two years.

But Williams said he “really didn’t want to go there” due to Maryland’s recruiting efforts.

“They had eyes on me since I was freshman,” said Williams, who took multiple unofficial visits there. “(Mark Turgeon) was at all of our games. I feel like they didn't take me serious enough throughout my entire high school career. He saw me mostly every game and he really didn't even offer. It was like an offer but then after that it was no contact. I really was turned off by that and I didn't want to go to Maryland because of that.”

Williams noted he would’ve “definitely considered” the Terrapins if they made him feel wanted. Instead, he committed to Georgetown in July 2019 and decommitted five months later before Michigan and coach Juwan Howard entered the picture.

“Juwan came in and recruited from the DMV. He showed love as a soon as I decommitted,” Williams recalled. “He was the first one to call me and he was there the next day. I felt the love from Juwan. Then Hunter committed to Michigan (on Dec. 20, 2019) and I was like, yeah, I've got to go with my big fella, especially when Juwan and the coaching staff are showing serious interest in me.”

Like Williams, Dickinson was the standout on his high school team at DeMatha Catholic and played a stone’s throw away from Xfinity Center. But unlike Williams, Dickinson said he wasn’t even recruited by Maryland at all.

According to 247Sports’ database, Dickinson took two unofficial visits to Maryland in 2018 and never received an offer, despite being one of the top prospects in the state.

“I did feel a little disrespected when I wasn't recruited by them,” Dickinson said. “I'm really glad with where I am right now. I'm 100% certain that this is the spot for me.

"I'm happy to be here at Michigan.”

Certainly, the Wolverines are glad to have Williams and Dickinson, who have carved out roles in the rotation and have had a hand in Michigan’s 7-0 start. The two have repeatedly credited playing in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference — which Williams called the best league at the high school level — for preparing them to produce right away, particularly Dickinson.

The 7-footer has already racked up three Big Ten freshman of the week honors, which hasn't surprised Williams. Assistant coach Phil Martelli also credited Dickinson’s early success to the strides he has made since fifth-year senior center Austin Davis beat him out for the starting job in the preseason.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard knew Nebraska was going to throw double-teams at freshman center Hunter Dickinson (1) in Friday's matchup and prepared accordingly.

“We have a saying around the office, ‘Some guys play when the popcorn's popping.’ That’s what Hunter did,” Martelli said. “All of the sudden, there wasn’t a crowd but there was just a different juice. It started with our intrasquad scrimmage where he was really productive. It’s just grown and it’s fascinating to watch because, in a lot of ways, he’s just scratching the surface.”

The same could be said of Williams, who has bought into his reserve role as a versatile bench piece. Williams said his focus is on providing “spark minutes” and making hustle plays whenever he's on the floor, whether that’s grabbing a couple rebounds or getting a defensive stop.

And that won’t change Thursday, even in a contest where Williams could have extra motivation and a chip on his shoulder to prove himself after Maryland’s recruiting slights.

Instead, Williams and Dickinson insist they’ll treat the Maryland matchup as just another game and will look to keep doing what they’ve been doing — playing their games, making the most of their minutes and showing everyone what they're capable of.

"It's going to feel great going back to Maryland,” Williams said. “Even though there's going to be no fans, it's still going to feel like home just because I'm in the area of where I grew up at and where my home is. I'm definitely ready for this game.”

No. 16 Michigan at Maryland

Tip-off: 7 p.m. Thursday, Xfinity Center, College Park, Md.

TV/radio: ESPN2/950

Records: Michigan 7-0, 2-0 Big Ten; Maryland 6-3, 1-2

Outlook: Following last week's Christmas Day game, the Wolverines will be playing their second consecutive holiday matchup. … Michigan has won four of the past five meetings between the teams. … Junior guard Eric Ayala (14.7 points) paces a Maryland team that’s looking for its second straight win over a ranked opponent after upsetting No. 6 Wisconsin, 70-64, on Monday.

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

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