Wally Judge, a 6-9 sophomore forward at Kansas State, announced a few days ago that he was leaving KSU's program. As a DC native who was recruited by Maryland the first time around, some speculation naturally popped up that Judge would consider the Terrapins. I'm fully prepared to kick that speculation into overdrive:
Hearing rumors Wally Judge will end up at Maryland. Unconfirmed at this point
First up: NY2LASports is actually Antonio Curro, who is this perhaps better known as a guy who runs a tournament and charges coaches ridiculous prices. Not only does that fact indicate some measure of connected-ness to the hoops (under)world, he happens to be an editor for both SLAM and HoopScoop, which are both relatively well-respected entities. Is he Andy Katz or Dave Telep? Not quite. But this is the first Judge-to-Maryland conjecture I've heard from someone that might actually know what they're talking about, and that makes it completely post-worthy.
If you're not a recruiting junkie, you're probably wondering who this Wally character is, and more relevantly, why you should care. Let's give you the tour:
Judge is a DC native who played for D.C. Assault back in the Michael Beasley-era glory days of that AAU program. He was extremely hyped, reaching unanimous five-star, top-20 (or top-15, depending on the service) recognition. He was a McDonald's All-American, had every tool imaginable, and was considered a potential "next Beasley." I'll let the videos do the talking for me.
He ended up following the DCA pipeline to Manhattan, and we all know now how that worked out. He didn't get nearly as much playing time as everyone had expected and was generally disappointing, considering his high billing. His freshman year only netted him 12 minutes, 3 points, and 3 rebounds per game. He bulked up in the offseason and came back for his sophomore year weighing in at 248 pounds - up substantially from his weight coming into the program. He was universally considered a breakout prospect and was considered to be a key to the Wildcats' hopes.
Instead, things kind of went like they did last year. He received middling playing time, registered a few DNPs, and halfway through the year, he was averaging only 15 minutes, 5 points, and 3 boards a game. The lack of playing time combined with being in Manhattan, KS, and having to deal with psycho-insane Frank Martin on a daily basis proved to be enough to get him to transfer. As Martin said, he was "just not enjoying it" and has decided to transfer.
Which leads us to where we are now. Judge is likely to look somewhere back east, which would probably limit him to Maryland, UVA, VT, Georgetown, Villanova, and Rutgers (maybe Pitt). The only landing spot I've heard be mentioned specifically by someone who may know: well, that's Maryland, as evidenced above.
There are a lot of questions about Judge, and some concerns. He underperformed, for one. And he may have "character issues", as evidenced by the fact that he's quitting on teammates. The first is a little concerning, but it's hardly deal-breaking; his potential is both obvious and massive. He's long, he's strong, he's athletic, and when he's dialed in, he can do pretty much whatever he wants to with a basketball. Maryland's been searching for the next Wilcox for some time now, and he might be the answer. He's far from Beasley, but with coaching, there's no reason he couldn't be a double-double machine.
I find the second to be of minimal importance here. Frank Martin has a mutiny on his hands, and Judge is far from the first Wildcat to transfer, even this season - he's actually the third. That indicates something systemic, not just Judge not being able to deal with Martin's constant yelling. And he's obviously willing to work, as evidenced by the fact that he put on a solid 30 pounds or so in-between his freshman and sophomore years.
As for why he's important, the answer is two-fold: first, he's a rather obvious roster upgrade. Maryland needs a four in the worst way, and Judge is that and then some. If he by some miracle was able to play with a senior Jordan Williams, Maryland would likely have one of the best frontcourts in the country. He'd have to redshirt next year, after which he'd be a junior, so think of him as a crazy highly-touted 2012 JuCo prospect. Compared to what Maryland has both on the roster and on the recruiting board at the moment, he's an upgrade over both - both in terms of immediate impact and potential.
Secondly, he'd be Maryland's first DC Assault member since...ever? I can't remember the last DCA player to suit up for Maryland, if it's ever happened. Even though Curtis Malone's bunch has fallen behind Team Takeover locally, DCA is still a force to be reckoned with locally. Providing a safe haven for a shaken Judge, and allowing him to flourish, would be a gesture of goodwill, if nothing else, and might be seen positively by fellow DCA players - like, for instance, Quinn Cook or, more usefully, 2013 star PG Nate Britt.
A few disclaimers: he would be a junior when he arrives, and he would almost certainly have to sit out next season. He's also not expected to be a game-changer in and of himself - temper expectations and keep his struggles at KSU in mind.
And, as always in recruiting, this is far from set in stone yet. It's just the way of recruiting in general, and Maryland recruiting seems to intensify it. But hey, we'll be optimistic while we can.