Ready for a boatload of information? Good, because that's what your getting.
The Terrence Ross situation developed quickly. This post is big, and the next post following it will be even bigger. In this one, I do my best to review all the Terrence Ross info we have, as well as explain some of the rumors being thrown around. Part two will be much bigger.
Some of the following is speculation, because that's most of what exists in this recruitment so far. It's not baseless, but it's far from concrete. If you don't want to deal with speculation, then don't, and stop now. Otherwise, keep in mind that none of this is certain. That means avoid drawing conclusions for as long as possible.
What We Really Know
We know that Terrence Ross is 100% decommitted and considering 4 schools: Kansas, Kentucky, Duke (ugh), and Maryland.
We know that no other school has a legitimate shot to get back in.
We know that he is supposedly just reconsidering - nothing insidious has been suggested by a reliable source.
We know that no decision is coming until spring. Montrose Christian prevents official visits until after the year and Stu Vetter will definitely try to keep the vultures away for as long as possible.
We know that Ross had been wavering since September; this didn't just happen. We know that in November, he put in writing in a non-binding agreement that he knew what a commitment meant and planned to honor it. We know that he did not.
We know that Ross decommitted through his mother, who emailed Gary Williams last weekend.
We know...actually, we don't know anything else yet.
Almost everything that is factual comes from two sources: Steve Yanda at the WaPo and Matt Bracken at the Sun.
The Prevalent Theories
Lots of things are going on here that could be causing a decommit. Remember, Ross is a teenager, and changes hist mind fast. It may be nothing more than him simply having second thoughts. If you haven't been a teen in awhile, it's remarkably easy for people in the 15-20 age range (and younger/older, too) to go from loving something with all their heart to being not sure about it at all. It's also, however, extremely easy to be influenced by others.
That said, I'd be a little surprised if bigger forces weren't at play here. Some are guessing Duke's involvement. Others are bringing the homesick and mom factors into the equation (Ross is originally from Portland).
Most people are drawing connections to Nike, and not without reason. Ross is from Oregon, Nike HQ, and has grown up with Nike and Jordan Brand all of his life. He's tied strongly with the brand. Nike, of course, doesn't like Under Armor, and doesn't like Maryland for leaving Nike for Under Armor. It's doubtful that they'd be okay with Ross heading that way, and they have plenty of connections with him, his family, and his friends to sway the decision.
Another major theory is that his academics aren't good enough to get into UMD, which has among the most stringent athletic standards in the country. Duke, despite being a better academic university, sets its athletic standards much lower. Kentucky and Kansas are lesser universities anyway.
Most likely, a little bit of everything is combining to form the situation we now have.
Is He Definitely Gone?
Simply answer: probably.
Complex answer: Yes and no.
He's definitely decommitted, so the recruitment is open again. He has not, however, ruled out Maryland. According to his Facebook profile, UMD's in his top 5, which is actually kind of laughable for a variety of reasons, but it's all we have to go own.
Anyway, it's pretty rare for guys to recommit to the place they decomitted from. Louis Young did. C.J. Leslie decommitted from N.C. State and is now considering them, though that's fairly rare as well. For reference, only one top 100 player in 2009 that decommitted ended up in their original school (not counting Solomon Hill, who committed and decommitted from another school in the mean time before ending up at Arizona, where he originally signed).
Stu Vetter will probably keep Ross to list Maryland, even if it's a longshot. Duke seems to be the frontrunner at this point in time. Maryland will probably continue to recruit him and do everything in their power to hold him in, but Maryland (and you) would be foolish to count on him or not recruit a replacement. The "source" from the Terps Insider post said it best:
"I get the vibe that they've got a lot of work to do," one source said. "I wouldn't say that there's no chance (Ross will play at Maryland), but it doesn't look good."
The Possibility Too Few Are Talking About: Is Ross Just Reconsidering?
Well, maybe. The hive mind mentality says that there's more to it, but no one really knows. The Terrapins Insider article linked above would lead most to believe, however, that that's the case.
Ross said his heart was never in it; that he was 80% Maryland. I find it tough to believe given how pro-Terps he had been, but maybe that was all a facade. If it was, Ross is a really good actor.
According to the article, when Ross started wavering, schools started showing interest. The interest flattered him, and he realized there was a better possible date to take to prom than Maryland, the average girl with a personality somewhere between cute and creepy that he asked out too early in the process. Or, if you're not fun, a better team to join.
When I was writing the first draft of this post, I mentioned down in the Stu Vetter section that there were two very different camps, and you shouldn't believe anything either of them say. That still holds - take it with a grain of salt. Obviously, if he was leaving for another reason, he wouldn't say so. That said, he's still relatively convincing on paper. Discomfort likely played a role.
The Mom Factor
This is either very bad or very good.
Terrence Ross can have two types of mothers; neither is a better person or mother than the other, I just like one better. She could be Josh Selby's mom, or she could be Louis Young's mom. Selby's mom takes the situation over, runs the recruitment, and has no problem decomitting. Young's mom says a commitment is a commitment, and you honor it no matter what.
Mom was pretty uninvolved with the recruitment in the past. Now? She's the one that sent the email to Williams saying Ross decommitted.
Smelling like Selby.
Nike's Possible Involvement
Nike? Yeah, Nike. I'm going to delve into this later, but there are a lot of reasons Nike would want him and he would be swayed by them. He's grown up around Nike. He's gone to Nike schools and played on a Nike AAU team. He almost certainly was in contact with a Nike rep at some point that became a friend and funded him in some manner (not illegal, FWIW). Nike wants to keep UA behind the 8 ball in this process, keep the order of things, and keep Ross in the Nike stable. They surely don't mind messing with Maryland.
If Nike is involved, they're not going the Phil Knight route. They'll have a rep or grassroots person that would talk to Ross, and they wouldn't be as blatant as you would expect.
For more explanation on this, check part II.
Could Academics Factor In?
Maybe, though it's doubtful. There's no hard information on this either way, which makes it impossible to know one way or the other. It has been suggested before, and all of the schools have accepted very questionable recruits in the past.
That said, academics seem like a big longshot at this point for several reasons. First off, he has a long time to get his grades up. He doesn't need to go through admissions for awhile, plenty of time to get his grades up and take the SAT more times.
That's assuming he even needs to get them up. I was always under the impression he was definitely qualified, though I can't find anything concrete one way or the the other. I'll keep looking, but this doesn't seem likely.
Vetter is the head coach of Montrose Christian, Ross's HS team. He's also in the tank for Maryland, or at least likes and respects Gary and the program. He's been a help in the past in recruiting, and it's not going to change anytime soon.
Vetter was insisting that Ross is going to Maryland, and will probably do his best to keep it that way. However, he runs into a problem I discuss later. He doesn't want to piss off Nike, who supplies his jerseys (and occasionally players), and he can't force Ross to do anything, but he likes Maryland and wants to help out there.
I'm not sold that Vetter can control this situation, or is even that informed about it. A few days ago, I read an article in which he insisted Ross was headed to Maryland. Yesterday, Ross said he's decommitted. Now Vetter is claiming he is decommitted. Clearly there's a disconnect somewhere, or Vetter is simply blatantly lying to the media (also a possibility). Likely, both are happening - Vetter and Ross are clearly not on the same page.
I feel for the guy, but there are two camps here. I wouldn't trust everything that comes out of his mouth, nor the other camp's, on this one. [Ed's note: That's what I was talking about earlier].
Wrapping It Up
If I had to guess on the situation - I don't really want to - I'd say it'd follow the pattern of doubt, talking to the family, talking to the Nike rep, and then contact from coaches (it has been implied there was more than one). Once a coach came in contact, Ross was flattered, talked again to his parents, and eventually decommitted.
That's a guess at its most pure. The only real conclusion you can draw from this situation is that we don't know the whole situation, and maybe never will.
The situation, right now is...
Terrence Ross has decommitted, is considering Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Maryland, is rumored to be a Duke lean, and Maryland doesn't seem to a probability. Why isn't known yet - he could be reconsidering, it could be Nike, it could be something else altogether.
Part two is coming soon.