Maryland had already endured an uproar after four scholarship players opted to transfer earlier this spring, so the Terps were careful in how they presented the news when a fifth decided to leave.
They waited to reveal forward Charles Mitchell was transferring until they could also announce the signing of 7-foot incoming freshman Michael Cekovsky and the addition of North Carolina A&T transfer Richaud Pack. They also took great pains to emphasize that Mitchell's departure was not a result of a rift with the coaching staff or unhappiness with his role but rather because of a family issue.
“Recently, Charles shared with us that his grandmother had become ill,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said in the school-issued release. “I feel terrible for Charles and his family. Although we will miss Charles, we understand and support his decision to move closer to his home so he can help support and be there for his family."
Added Mitchell in the same release, “It’s important for me to be there for my grandmother and to help support my family. I didn’t want to leave, but I have to put my family first."
It's certainly understandable Mitchell would want to transfer closer to his Georgia home to support his family and be closer to his grandmother, but the exodus from College Park is still becoming alarming no matter how Maryland tries to spin it.
Mitchell, heralded point guard Roddy Peters, promising big man Shaq Cleare, returning starter Seth Allen and onetime top 50 recruit Nick Faust each left this spring even though all five players likely would have been part of next season's rotation. That runs the tally to nine players who have transferred since Turgeon took over for Gary Williams three-plus years ago.
Of the departures this spring, Mitchell's will be felt most on the glass.
In two seasons at Maryland, Mitchell became a formidable rebounder, averaging 6.0 points and 5.8 boards and ranking 12th nationally in rebounding percentage as a sophomore. Conditioning remained an ongoing issue for Mitchell, which led to some struggles defensively against quicker, more agile opposing big men.
The silver lining to all the departures for Maryland is the Terps will still field a lineup capable of taking them to their first NCAA tournament of Turgeon's tenure.
Leading scorer Dez Wells returns to provide perimeter scoring and rebounding. He will be joined in the backcourt by promising freshman guards Romelo Trimble and Dion Wiley and Pack, who averaged 17 points per game for North Carolina A&T last season. Top big man Jake Layman will anchor a frontcourt that will also include former Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz and freshmen centers Cekovsky and Trayvon Reed.
If the freshmen and other newcomers are ready to step in right away and make an impact, Maryland can make its Big Ten debut memorable and ease some of the pressure on Turgeon. If not, the flames underneath Turgeon's seat will surely intensify and Maryland's offseason exodus will continue to be a frequent subject of conversation.
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