As Greivis and Co. leave the house, others rise to take their place. This year, it's a group of five incoming freshmen. Over the next five days, we'll be introducing them to you, in order of their commitments. First up was Terrell Stoglin, followed by Mychal Parker. Now we have Ashton Pankey, a gritty NYC forward.
Name: Ashton Pankey
HS: St. Anthony's; Jersey City, NJ
AAU: New Heights
Nickname: Ash, of course. Also, and sadly, Hankey Pankey.
Rankings: 3 stars on Rivals; 91 on ESPN; 3 stars on Scout, #36 PF
Maryland Was Better Than: Houston
Strengths: A very Gary type of guy. Pankey has very long arms to go with solid height, making his length tough to defend. He's a very good, proven rebounder, and not the way Jordan Williams is - where J-Dub makes space with his savvy, Pankey just out-jumps, out-grabs, and out-hustles people for boards. He's a "quick" jumper, which is to say he has good reactions and gets into the air fast. Combine his leaping ability, length, and effort, and you get a great rebounder. He's got a great motor, and is a glue guy. He'll do everything required of him underneath, even the little things.
Weaknesses: A little undersized, weight-wise, for the PF spot, but not criminally so. Certainly not a threat for offense as his post moves aren't all that developed and his jumper is streaky- think of him kind of like James Padgett. That's okay, because Maryland already has their low post threat in Jordan Williams, but it would've been nice to have another offensive weapon. Pankey's also coming off of a stress fracture in his foot, for which he had foot surgery. He missed his entire senior season. While he's expected to be back in time for Maryland Madness, the rust factor will be palpable and the risk of another injury is a little scary.
In a Turtleshell: Great rebounder that isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, but won't bring much to the floor on offense until later in his career.
Interesting Storyline: Gary Williams made his first trip up to St. Anthony's to look at Pankey's teammate, Devon Collier. But Pankey joined Collier in the workout, and it was Pankey - not Collier - that Williams offered.
Comparison: Pankey is actually similar to a more athletic, less strong Jon Brockman out of Washington a couple years ago. Both have limited offensive ability but are outstanding rebounders that have endless motors.
Prediction: It all depends on how he deals with his injury. I don't think he'll surpass James Padgett as the first big off the bench next year, but he should be option #2 (assuming Dino starts) and will probably come into the game in games like Michigan State, when Maryland needs a rebounding presence.
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