Washington

With Mark Turgeon re-signed, here's where Maryland stands

Washington

Whether you agree with the extension for Mark Turgeon until the end of the 2025-26 season or not, a move had to be made by Maryland.

Sitting idle and letting a head coach enter a lame-duck season at the Power 5 level is not a reasonable option. Recruits don't want to head to a program that might force them to look elsewhere if the coach and team part ways after their freshman season. 

The Terrapins chose to extend rather than start over. Turgeon is now locked in for the long term and if you look at the beginning of the next chapter in the Turgeon era, it's off to a strong start. 

Just prior to the announcement of Turgeon's extension, he arguably got the two biggest transfer commitments of his tenure other than nabbing Dez Wells from Xavier in 2012 to jumpstart the program early in his tenure.

Senior Darryl Morsell, while testing the NBA waters and entering the transfer portal, also left the door open to return to College Park. 

An extension, two marquee transfers and a chance your fifth-year leader returns for his additional "COVID-19 year." That's a pretty good stretch for Turgeon, especially given an up-and-down tenure with the Terps and an antsy fanbase, which has seen one Sweet 16 appearance in a decade. 

The two transfers -- Fatts Russell and Qudus Wahab -- are huge. Both address the two biggest issues with the Terrapins roster during the 2020-21 season: point guard (Russell) and a formidable big-man (Wahab). Those are extremely notable additions to a team that made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Additions that make the assertion that Maryland is a top-five team for next year not too outlandish if things break right. 

 

It makes it all the sweeter that Wahab was swiped away from the local competition Georgetown. 

So now, what's next? 

IF the major players all return the roster would be stacked. That remains in flux. No one yet knows if Aaron Wiggins will test the NBA Draft waters -- or if guard Erik Ayala will 100% return. He, too, could go that route even if Wiggins is far more likely to have drawn scouts' attention with his strong play the second half of the season.

Turgeon has already lost Aquan Smart, a point guard from Chicago who was lightly recruited by big-conference schools (he was originally an East Tennessee State verbal) and barely played as a freshman. He announced he was transferring on Thursday. Will anyone else follow? 

For now, there are 12 scholarships accounted for when adding in the two new high school commits Julian Reese and Ike Cornish, who signed their letters of intent and are on board for next year. Their fellow classmate James Graham finished high school early during the pandemic and got a leg up by enrolling at Maryland in the second semester and practicing with the team. He even saw limited game action. Not enough, to some fans' liking, but he will not be a typical freshman next fall. More like a redshirt player. 

Much can change from now until June when most of the transfer requests are wrapped up, but the hope is at least one of Wiggins or Ayala stays. If they don't, then that opens the door for another transfer. Or Turgeon can pocket the scholarship knowing he'll be here a few more years yet and can make late runs at the 2022 recruiting class. If both leave along with Morsell?

Then the roster gets a little more dicey in terms of depth, which was the great weakness of the 2020-21 team. Turgeon did well to get his team to the second round, but his roster construction and recruiting contributed to that depth issue.  

Morsell, for now, seems more likely to leave than stay since he's giving himself three options and two of them would have him elsewhere. But in theory, Maryland can have the defending Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year come back and not count against the scholarship limit.

If a player is playing their fifth year of eligibility on their original team, it does not count as one of the 13 scholarships. The same will be the case for any other player on the 2020-21 roster later down the line.

Hard to imagine all three of Morsell, Wiggins and Ayala coming back. Russell, an experienced Atlantic 10 player at Rhode Island, committed to Maryland for a reason. But if Morsell did return? Expectations would sky rocket. With a new contract, Mark Turgeon has the luxury of time to figure it out either way.