I wish today was April 1st and the above headline was just a sick joke. Unfortunately, its December 30th and Terrence Ross has indeed made it official: He is no longer committed to the University of Maryland.
The news comes from a couple sources, most notably from recruiting analyst Clint Jackson who recently tweeted "Terrence Ross decommits from Maryland." Also, the Duke Rivals' site has the exclusive with the headline "EXCLUSIVE: Terrence Ross a Duke option?" As a third (and more stalkerish) source, I can tell you that Terrence Ross has declared over Facebook, in no uncertain terms, that he is opening it back up again but that Maryland still has a decent chance.
Its hard to put into words how big of a blow this is for Maryland. Ross was the Terps' biggest recruit over the last couple years and was expected to be the centerpiece of the recruiting class that would bring Maryland basketball back to national prominence. This was supposed to be Gary's last hoorah. Instead, the staff may be left trying to pick up the pieces and fill a void that simply can not be filled.
What's going on here is anybody's guess. There's been rumors of Nike pushing Ross towards a Nike affiliated school (both Duke and Kentucky are Nike schools) and there's been new rumors that Duke commit and fellow Montrose teammate Josh Hairston have been pushing him towards Duke. Separating fact from fiction can be difficult but this much we know is true, Ross is no longer solid to MD and Duke is one of the schools he's considering.
The whole situation brings up a lot of questions and issues, and we could probably do a series of posts discussing each one. I'll briefly address a few of them.
Coach K: When did Mr. USA basketball get so desperate that he needs to recruit players who are already committed to other schools. Furthermore, what does it say about Coach K's professionalism when he recruits a player who is committed to a well respected, HOF coach, that Coach K has battled with for the last 20 years.
I would expect this stuff from Calipari or Calhoun, but not Mr. USA basketball. If anything, I guess this shows that Coach K is feeling a little heat down there in Durham. Maybe he realizes that Roy Williams is destroying him at his own game. Maybe Harrison Barnes choosing UNC over Duke pushed him over the edge. I don't really know. I do know this, though. Duke used to have its pick of McDonalds All-Americans. After years of doing nothing significant in the postseason and being beaten on the trail by Ol' Roy, it seems like Coach K is stooping to new tactics.
Gary's recruiting: It's been talked about at nauseam in the media, on message boards, and even by the AD. I don't want to make this into a debate between the Gary defenders and anti-Gary people but I've got a feeling that this is where its heading. I don't think this thing is necessarily Gary's fault. It's also hard to point the finger when we don't know all the facts. Regardless, the anti-Gary people are going to have a field day with this one.
A "Commitment": I know Terrence Ross is just a kid, and I'm sure he's got pressure from a lot of people pushing him in different directions, but how do personally recruit Mychal Parker to come join you in College Park, and then ditch him months later and consider the rival school? How do you play pickup with the team throughout the summer, bond with players, and the decommit and consider Duke? I just don't get it. I'm know its the die-hard, irrational Terp in me, but I do not understand how you can profess nothing but love for Maryland, and then back out on all that and consider Duke.
Some food for thought: If Terrence Ross does end up a blue devil (just reading that sentence makes me throw-up a little) is there any doubt he will be the most hated player in MD history? If you thought Maryland fans gave J.J. Reddick a hard time, imagine what Ross will get when he visits Comcast once a year. Note to ESPN: don't do a live-feed of the MD/Duke game in College Park if Ross ends up a Dookie.
Look, I hope Terrence Ross is still a Terp. Matter of fact, there's still a semi-decent chance that Terrence Ross does end up a Terp. If he signs on the dotted line for Maryland and Gary, this fan base will no doubt support him with all we've got.
But right now, it's not looking great. You rarely see a player recommit to a school after decommiting. If he ends up elsewhere (especially Duke), it will be another chapter in the sad, depressing story that is Maryland basketball recruiting.
Feel free to post your frustrations below.
Happy New Year, everybody.