The Maryland Terrapins are actively trying to lure transfers to College Park this offseason. While they were successful in grabbing Boston College's Jairus Hamilton, the Terps struck out on every other high-value transfer they were linked too so far.
Maryland has struck out so many times that it is almost too many to count.
Grad transfers - who are immediately eligible to play - were the biggest names to turn down Mark Turgeon's squad.
The situation has gotten so dire that one has to question why college stars are not attracted to the Terrapins for their final year of college ball. The team is fresh off their first Big Ten regular-season title and has recent success at sending and preparing players for the NBA.
There could be several reasons why a player turns down the Terrapins. Each player has different needs and wants a distinct experience to wrap up their college career. For some reason, those expectations are not being met by Maryland.
A rather important factor in a player wanting to transfer is moving to a team that is competitive.
The outlook for Maryland is not great right now for next season. Its two best, most productive players are gone (Antony Cowan, Jalen Smith) and there are no clear answers on who will fill those spaces. Both also happen to be the two most important spots on a roster: point guard and an effective post player. Those spots have been the primary targets for coach Mark Turgeon in the transfer portal.
If any transfer were to come in immediately and be eligible, they would likely have to be the go-to player for the Terrapins' offense.
Aaron Wiggins, Eric Ayala and Darryl Morsell all should take steps forward in 2020-21, but none of them were the primary offensive option last season.
Wiggins showed flashes of it, but not consistently enough before he was moved out of the starting rotation. At times he looked like a future NBA player. Other times his beautiful shot was frustratingly inaccurate. His stroke is too good to make for a 31.7% shooter from 3-point range. Wiggins was at 41.3% as a freshman. If he gets closer to that mark next season he will be headed for the NBA Draft after his junior year.
Ayala and Morsell were complementary players. But Ayala's 3-point shooting was a disaster last season (27.4%). Morsell is a heart-and-soul player, but it's unclear how much offensive upside he has left heading into his final season.
Asking even the best mid-major transfers to come in and immediately replace Cowan or Smith was never realistic anyway. Even if Maryland had landed players like VCU's Marcus Santos-Silva or Harvard's Bryce Aiken, it was always going to be a group effort to keep them near the top of the Big 10 standings. Without landing anyone - and with a small recruiting class that doesn't include a consensus Top-100 prospect - the 2020-21 season prognosis looks grim.
There are other areas of concern. Turgeon's contract only is through the 2022-23 season, which may be viewed as a lack of commitment from the school. Most college basketball coaches are signed and extended constantly so they are on contract for four-to-five seasons. That makes it easier to recruit.
Another issue, due to the coronavirus pandemic, is that prospective players cannot visit the College Park campus. While the team's facilities are more than adequate and the school has modern advances, it's hard to compete against other institutions that have a nearby beach or other attractive qualities. Part of the allure of Maryland is the feel of the campus once you step on it.
So, Maryland is certainly behind the eight-ball for the upcoming year. The Terps still don't have a definite starter at point guard, nor a player able to play the four or the five. Right now, Chol Marial, who played 65 minutes total last season would have to start. Given his injury history, that is a big ask.
Expectations for a new season will definitely be lower. A Big Ten title is not likely in reach and even a bid to the NCAA Tournament is not certain given the current talent on the team. It has become more than just a depth issue for the Terps. Maryland needs guys who can come in and compete and it hasn't found enough in the transfer market yet.
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