Maryland’s chances at reaching the 2016 Final Four just keep getting better and better.
The Terps made a huge splash Monday, announcing that Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon is coming to College Park. He is expected to earn his degree and be immediately eligible.
Sulaimon was a three-year impact player for Duke, but he grabbed headlines earlier this year for all the wrong reasons, becoming the first player ever kicked off a Duke team by Mike Krzyzewski.
Sulaimon’s dismissal was surprising, and Krzyzewski only said that Sulaimon was "unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program.” Later, allegations of sexual assault appeared in the Duke student newspaper, but neither the school nor the Durham police department involved Sulaimon in any investigation. According to Sports Illustrated, the alleged victims did not file complaint with the school nor the police. Solomon told ESPN.com last month that the allegations were not the reason he was dismissed and denied the sexual assault allegations.
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Monday, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon told ESPN.com that Sulaimon had been "vetted" and said in the program's announcement that he has confidence Sulaimon will "embrace this opportunity."
"I’ve known Rasheed and his family since he was in the seventh grade, first meeting him when he attended our basketball camp at Texas A&M,” Turgeon said in the announcement. “He was a very polite and poised young man, and I recruited him while I was at Texas A&M because of his commitment to both academics and athletics. We competed against Rasheed on multiple occasions in the ACC, and I was reminded of his dynamic playmaking ability. During our conversations with Rasheed and his parents, Kenny and Angela, Rasheed expressed the importance of proving that he is committed to being a great student-athlete and a selfless teammate. I have full confidence that Rasheed will embrace this opportunity at the University of Maryland.”
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From a basketball perspective, Sulaimon’s addition is the latest piece of great news for Maryland’s chances at being one of college basketball’s top teams next season. Melo Trimble and Jake Layman have announced their returns, and the Terps will welcome in one of the highest-ranked recruits in the country in five-star big man Diamond Stone.
Last month, the Terps were given the third-best odds in the country to win next season's national championship. Those chances could get even better with the addition of Sulaimon, and Maryland could be one of the nation's top-ranked teams when the first polls come out.
Sulaimon had NBA aspirations while at Duke, playing heavy minutes as a key contributor in three seasons. He averaged double-digit points as a freshman, helping to guide the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight in the 2013 NCAA tournament. This past season, he averaged 7.5 points in 20 games before his dismissal. Duke went on to win the national championship.
“I am extremely grateful to the University of Maryland and coach Turgeon for this opportunity to further my education and continue to play the game I love,” Sulaimon said in the announcement. “I’m looking forward to starting this next chapter at Maryland.”