What. Just. Happened?
A report surfaced Wednesday afternoon in the form of this tweet from Alex Kline of Rivals.
A source says Maryland sophomore Seth Allen has asked for his release from the program.— Alex Kline (@TheRecruitScoop) April 30, 2014
Kline is not the most reliable source out there, but Maryland fans understandably started freaking out at the prospect of losing a key player in the basketball program.
That report was followed up by Maryland's beat reporter for the Washington Post, the ultra-reliable Alex Prewitt with the following tweets.
Text from Mark Turgeon on Seth Allen asking for his release: "Not correct."— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) April 30, 2014
Granted, he said something similar when rumors about Nick Faust popped up. Doesn't mean it might not happen, but it hasn't.— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) April 30, 2014
So...not super helpful. Then, on Friday we got this from Jeff Goodman.
Maryland's Seth Allen told ESPN that he plans to transfer. Story: http://t.co/5MSaSPjrhQ— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 2, 2014
But then also these from Prewitt.
Just talked with Seth Allen's mother. Was on the other line with Maryland. "Nothing's settled," she said. "That's all I can say."— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) May 2, 2014
Sense I got from brief convo with Seth Allen's mother was that official pieces are still in motion. But clearly he wants to leave.— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) May 2, 2014
And now here we are. Allen is leaving.
Confirming that Maryland will grant Seth Allen his release today, per source.— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) May 2, 2014
What is Maryland losing?
A few weeks ago, when Maryland announced the transfers for Shaq Cleare, Nick Faust and Roddy Peters, the reaction generally consisted of slight shock, but mostly shrugs. Cleare and Peters barely contributed in their times at Maryland, while Faust was an enigmatic, frustrating player. Few, if any, fans saw it as a crushing blow to the Terps basketball future. In fact, there were some, including Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, that thought they would be better off without the three.
Unequivocally, there are no positives to be found in losing a player as productive as Allen. After missing 12 games to start the season due to a foot injury, Allen was one of Maryland's best players. In his first game back he scored 15 points against Tulsa. He'd go on to average 13.4 points and 3 assists on 40.6% shooting and 38% from three. Additionally, he was second on the Terps in eFG% (behind Cleare), assist % (behind Peters) and usage % (behind Dez Wells).
Perhaps more importantly than his production, Allen showed enormous improvement from his freshman to sophomore season and even over the course of last season alone. He became better at getting to the bucket and finishing, developed consistency with his jump shot and was able to make plays for his teammates.
While never a "true point guard" he was forced, by roster deficiencies, to play the position for most of his time on the court. Many fans, myself chief among them, were excited to see how much better Allen could be when playing primarily off the ball, next to highly touted incoming freshman Melo Trimble.
Had Allen stayed, and had he even improved 50% of his production from his first to second seasons, he would have averaged close to 20 points per game as a junior. To put that in perspective, no one in the Big Ten averaged more than 18.1 points per game last season (Terran Petteway, Nebraska). Maryland lost their best scoring weapon, and perhaps someone that would be the among the best in their new conference.
In one word? Freshmen. With Allen gone, Maryland only has four scholarship guards and three are freshman: Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens. Now, all of them are top 100 ranked players and Trimble was a McDonald's All American, but the Terps go from expecting some production from their production from newcomers, to almost their entire back court production from newcomers.
They almost certainly will look to add at least one, maybe two, immediately eligible transfer guards. We've discussed Ian Chiles from IUPUI and KC Ross-Miller from New Mexico State, and surely more names will emerge.
For now, all we can look to is how ready the trio of freshman are to step up. As mentioned, Trimble is the most highly touted of the three and among the most highly regarded Maryland recruits in a decade. There were already incredible expectations and pressure on Trimble to come in and be an impact player immediately, but with this news that pressure goes up.
Wiley was a major recruit in his own right. He has ideal size and frame for a 2-guard and it known as a lights out shooter, as well as a good passer and crafty around the rim. Without Allen, senior Dez Wells will probably start at shooting guard, but Wiley should be his primary backup.
As for Nickens, he's a knock down shooter as well. He's skinnier than Wiley or Trimble, but a better athlete and, to my eyes at least, a more capable defender. There's a possibility he's more college ready than Wiley and could beat him out for minutes.
What does this all mean?
I don't think there's any way else to put this, so I will be frank. It's bad, very bad.
They lose arguably their best or second best returning player, their best returning shooter and a leader on a team that desperately needs those. The development of Allen, an unheralded 3-star from suburban Virginia, into a dynamic scoring guard that dropped 32 on FSU and dominated overtime against #5 UVA was one of the few bright spots in the last few years of Maryland basketball.
For the Terps to succeed next season, they will need all five freshmen - the three guards mentioned, along with centers Trayvon Reed and Michal Cekovsky (neither of whom are locks to even make it to College Park next season) - to contribute immediately, Wells to play like a first team all-conference players and improvements from Jake Layman and Damonte Dodd. Could all of this come to pass and Maryland find their way back to the NCAA tournament? Maybe. Should you count on it? I wouldn't.