Mark Turgeon's roster has been getting thinner and thinner by the month. A roster with eight scholarship players probably isn't what he envisioned when he took over Maryland's basketball program. (Or, maybe it is, and maybe it's why he took the job?)
Some fans have bandied about the potential of using football players on the hardwood once the oblong ball's season runs out. Hey, there are always some talented ballers on the football teams, right? If Donovan McNabb and Julius Peppers can do it, I'm sure Danny O'Brien and Bradley Johnson have what it takes. (Maybe.)
Apparently it's an idea that Turgeon is open to, per the Baltimore Sun.
The upshot is that I asked Turgeon specifically today about 6-foot-7, 275-pound offensive lineman Jake Wheeler, who was recruited by some schools for football and by others for basketball. When we interviewed him in early 2010, he was averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds for his Florida high school.
So here was Turgeon's reply to my query about Wheeler: ""I know nothing about it. But I might explore that with Randy if they don't make a bowl game."
"Something I might explore" doesn't really equate to "something I will try to have happen," so hold your horses before you get too excited. And remember that Randy "The Lawgiver" Edsall has to sign off on the plan, something that strikes me as ... unlikely.
But if it's something Turgeon wants to look at, we have a few possibilities:
Jake Wheeler, 6-7, 275, OT/PF: The guy Barker asked directly about, Wheeler is likely to at least get a look from Turgeon since the question's been asked. When Wheeler committed, he didn't actually have any football tape, so we instead took to looking at his basketball highlights to get a feel for him.
And wouldn't you know it, he's not half-bad. The tape's only a minute long or so, of course, but he has some decent footwork and athleticism, and hey, he makes a couple of buckets, so there's that. The real draw is Wheeler's size: 6-7 in football is equivalent to 6-9 in basketball, and his height and weight would be huge for a Maryland team in desperate need of it. Even if he only comes off the bench a few minutes a game, he'd give smaller guys like James Padgett a rest from the big bodies in the ACC, like Tyler Zeller and the Plumlee
Ogres Brothers. Then again, 275 is a lot of weight for a basketball player.
Kenny Tate, 6-4, 220, S/SF: Tate was actually a highly regarded basketball recruit coming out of DeMatha. He started three years for the Stags, had a fair share of offers to play basketball in college, and was ESPN's #58 SF in the country. (Modern equivalent: someone like a Shakir Brown.) But that ranking almost certainly took into account his obvious preference for football; anyone who starts for DM for three years has to have at least three-star talent. And he'd be an asset for Maryland if only to put a big, fast athlete on the floor and let him body up perimeter players that aren't used to being hit by a 220-pound first round NFL draft pick.
Unfortunately, that whole "first round NFL draft pick" thing might get in the way. I imagine Tate will want to spend every waking minute from the time the season is over until the draft trying to boost his stock, and playing basketball probably isn't a great way to do that.
C.J. Brown, 6-3, 200, QB/PG: DOB's backup was actually a bit of a baller at Seneca Valley HS. Football was more important given his success, but he led his HS in scoring his senior year and still claims basketball as his first love. And in a 4A playoff game against Fox Chapel, he had 18 points (2 of them coming from dunks) and 14 boards on the way to a victory. He even claimed the ability to drop a 360 dunk.
Maryland has plenty of guards, but Brown is athletic and apparently knows what he's doing on the floor. He'd probably be a cut above the average walk-on. Getting him out there to run could come in handy, especially if Maryland needs to rest their perimeter players - they only have five, after all, and will probably be playing four at a time. Unfortunately, due to the relative importance of his position, I'm guessing Randy Edsall will want Brown to be focused on his sport of scholarship.
Ryan Schlothauer, 6-5, 250, TE/PF / Dave Stinebaugh 6-4, 240, TE/PF: The position that seems to enjoy the most success as far as crossover athletes go seems to be TE to PF - see: Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Schlothauer and Stinebaugh, then, are the two potential cross-overs to watch. They both have good size and played basketball at their respective Baltimore high schools, so they have to at least be able to understand the basics. Perhaps they'd be worth a look to see what's up.
Danny O'Brien, 6-3, 215, QB/SG: First of all: this will almost certainly never happen, and the only way it does is if O'Brien absolutely demands it to, which is something nigh-unbelievable.
But the Fearless Leader was "all-conference" in basketball before committing to Maryland. And I have to imagine he'd be a pretty good floor general if nothing else. Plus, he's awesome.
Justin Anderson, 6-5, 275, DE/SF: Hey, wait a minute, a 6-5 dude named Justin Anderson to play for the Maryland basketball team? I think I know how this one turns out. Cross him off the list.
... too soon?
That last one aside, the crop ain't looking particularly full. If anyone makes the leap, my guess would be Wheeler, with Brown in second place. Of course, with Rockin' Randy possessing veto power, who really knows?