ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 09: Reggie Bullock #35 of the North Carolina Tar Heels has his shot blocked by Ashton Pankey #30 and Mychal Parker #11 of the Maryland Terrapins in the first half during the Quarterfinals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 9, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
After Maryland's season, no one was quite certain if Terrell Stoglin, Mychal Parker, or Ashton Pankey would be returning next year. A month or so ago, everything looked peachy. Now Stoglin's gone (and suspended), Parker's at Loyola, and Pankey, well:
Freshman PF Ashton Pankey leaving Maryland & will likely transfer somewhere closer to home in NY, multiple sources say.maryland.247sports.com/Board/67/Panke…— Jeff Ermann (@insidemdsports) May 15, 2012
Gonna miss maryland &terpnation...always have a place in my heart & I appreciated the last 2 years..#familyfirst— Ashton Pankey (@AshtonP_30) May 15, 2012
Pankey always seemed the most likely of the aforementioned trio to head out, and I'm a little surprised he was actually the last to do so. His first year had some bright spots, but he also drew the ire of Mark Turgeon and was benched more than once. Throw in multiple new big men to compete with, and things didn't look too bright for his long-term prospects in College Park.
This is hardly a killer transfer, and in the long run it could actually benefit Maryland, depending on what happens with Pankey's new scholarship. With Evan Smotrycz, Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell, and Damonte Dodd all coming into the program, there's no worries about depth down the road, and at the rate that Maryland's new staff is recruiting there's a good chance his replacement will bring more to the table.
But, when taken in tandem with the departures of Stoglin and Parker, it does hurt Maryland's depth for next year, especially when remembering that Smotrycz (and likely Dodd as well) won't play next year. They'll have more depth than they did last year, but they won't have the depth they could've had, and that'll come back to do damage at some point. Four big men should be just fine, by and large, but I would've quite liked to have Pankey on the roster for at least another year, given there's no scholarship crunch. I'm not sweating about it, but it's not the strength it once was.
As many have pointed out by now, Mark Turgeon has well and fully taken control of the program. Only two players, James Padgett and Pe`Shon Howard, return from the Gary Era, and both of them are decidedly Turgeon-esque players. This is his program now, without a doubt.
Meanwhile, this does open up things for Maryland on the scholarship front. There are now two openings for the 2012-13 season, although I doubt they'll get used this late in the game. When Padgett graduates next year that'll be another, which means they'll be working with at least three 'ships for the 2013 class. And so the "Will we have room for the Harrison Twins?" meme is brutally killed beyond resuscitation. The answer: definitively yes, and then some. (And that doesn't even take into account any other potential transfers, injuries, or pro departures.)
More coming later, but for now: while I'm not disappointed to see Pankey leave, I also liked him (and the great Pankey Leg nickname). Hopefully he'll land somewhere back home in New York and do well.