Edward Little’s Wol Maiwen spent a year at prep school before committing to play at Maine next season. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The recruiting class for the University of Maine men’s basketball team has a distinct Maine flavor to it this year.

The Black Bears announced the signings of five recruits Thursday, including former Maine high school stars Matty Fleming of Bangor and Wol Maiwen of Auburn and Edward Little High. Fleming, who led Bangor to the 2019 Class AA state championship after starting his high school career at Oxford Hills, and Maiwen, who led Edward Little to the 2018 Class AA state title, join Sanford’s Leyton Bickford to give the Black Bears three former Maine high school players in their seven-player recruiting class.

Fleming (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) and Maiwen (6-4, 185) played last year at prep schools – Fleming at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School in West Point, New York, and Maiwen at the Williston Northhampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

“My family and I have been talking about for years how great it would be if the Maine team had more Maine players,” said Fleming, whose older brother, Andrew, finished his Maine career this year with 1,414 points. “It’s great that it’s finally happening and I’m glad to be part of it.”

Richard Barron, who will enter his third year as Maine’s head coach next fall, is glad to have them.

“I’m excited for all three of them, their size, their athleticism,” said Barron. “They are not token players for us at all. They are legitimate Division I players who can help us compete in America East.”

Maine is coming off a 9-22 season, its best record since winning 13 games in the 2012-13 season. The Black Bears haven’t had a winning season since 2010-11, when they went 16-15.

Matty Fleming, a former Oxford Hills and Bangor standout, is among seven players who will bring their games to the University of Maine next year. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The three recruits believe, however, that Barron has the team heading in the right direction.

“For sure, I think he’s turning it around,” said the 6-6, 220-pound Bickford, who signed his letter of intent in February. “And we’re going to be part of it.”

The three have played together on the AAU circuit. Maiwen and Fleming were teammates on the Maine Renegades; Fleming and Bickford played a weekend together for the Blue Wave. “They’re easy to play with,” said Fleming. “They’re easy to get along with.”

Both Maiwen and Fleming said spending a year at a prep school was beneficial. Fleming grew an inch, put on 20 pounds and expanded his game, shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers. Maiwen said his overall game improved as well, but his growth also came off the court.

“Academically, I’m more organized, more goal-oriented,” he said. “I know what I’ve got to do. In high school, I used to be a little lenient, pushing things to the last minute. Now I’m on top of things.”

Bickford and Maiwen will likely redshirt next year, and they’re fine with that. “I think it would probably be in my best interest,” said Maiwen.

Not playing their first year of college ball could be an important step in their career, according to Barron.

Sanford’s Leyton Bickford signed his letter of intent in February. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“That’s something we don’t decide now,” he said. “But I want those two to have the opportunity, if they’re not in a position to play a lot of minutes that first year, then I want them here for a fifth year when they’ll have a chance to play at a higher level.”

Playing in their home state was important for all three.

“Being from a Maine school, having such a good career at EL, I think it just felt like the most home,” said Maiwen. “I liked the way Coach Barron pursued me. Whenever he talked to me, it felt like I was already part of the family.”

Fleming had intended to attend West Point. But he decided midway through his prep year that he wanted to become a teacher, and West Point does not offer an education major. So he reached out to Barron and Maine.

“I wasn’t sure I would have the opportunity to come back, with scholarships,” said Fleming. “It worked out. Being able to play in front of my family and friends every night, and people who know me more than just on the court, was a big factor.”

And that home-state feeling is important to Barron as well. “There’ll always be the need to look everywhere for players,” he said. “But we don’t want to ever not look close to home.”

The other recruits announced Thursday were guards Matias Prock of McLean, Virginia; LeChaun DuHart of Western Wyoming Community College and Adefolalrin “Fofo” Adetogun of Regina, Saskatchewan.

NOTE: The Maine women’s basketball team signed Caroline Bornemann, a 5-foot-10 guard/forward from Horsholm, Denmark.

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