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Surprise! Haukur Palsson Leaving Maryland to Pursue Pro Career in Europe

[UPDATE: Official statement is in. Turgeon said in a prepared statement that Palsson "wanted to be closer to home and provide for his family." But it's official.]

Haukur Palsson came into Maryland's program a year ago as a lightly recruited combo forward, more well-known for his Icelandic heritage than anything else. After a season of sporadic playing time, he was expected to play a large role for the Terrapins next season, given their lack of depth in the wake of Gary Williams' retirement.

Apparently, pro ball in Europe sounded more enticing.

Maryland forward Hauk Palsson is expected to leave the program to pursue a professional career in Europe, a source familiar with the situation said Monday, leaving the short-handed Terrapins even thinner than anticipated entering coach Mark Turgeon's first season.

Ouch. Perhaps we should've seen this coming after his strong performance in the European U-20 championships. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a few team representatives contacted him about making the leap after a strong game or two.

Palsson's departure isn't a killer for losing Palsson in and of himself - while he had some talent and was heady, he wasn't likely to make huge waves anytime soon. His shot didn't fall with consistency and he was hit or miss defensively at times. Most programs who are already at where Maryland wants to be could absorb the loss of a good ACC bench player like Palsson, even this late in the game.

But Maryland's not there yet, and they can't take that hit. What's killer is the lack of depth. Palsson was a good player who, even though he wouldn't win a game by himself, could give valuable minutes without a huge dropoff in play. Without him, Maryland is now stuck with only 8 scholarship players, and those 20 or so minutes will have to absorbed by other players - either other players who are overworked, or other players who aren't as good.

This bench got ridiculously short very quickly, and in fact will probably only have a single perimeter scholarship player on it at any given time. I was thinking Maryland might want to run-n-gun, but I'm not sure they have the depth for it. Certainly doesn't look like it right now.

What's more, Palsson could play some 4 in a pinch, if he had to. Instead, Maryland will still be playing James Padgett, Berend Weijs, and Ashton Pankey exclusively in the post.

The optimist would say that there's a definite upside for this: Maryland was going to suck this year anyway, and Palsson's departure opens up another scholarship for the talent-rich classes of 2012 and 2013. In fact, whoever fills that scholarship may have a bigger impact than Palsson would. If Palsson's departure opens up a spot for, say, Kennedy Meeks or Elijah Macon that wouldn't have been there otherwise, that's a trade that some might have to think long and hard about. Especially as, if the recruiting classes are up to par as to what people hope and think they'll be, he might've been passed over quickly regardless.

(If that extra spot is occupied by an Amile Jefferson or Nate Britt, then I think everyone takes it.)

Of course, it'd have to be an impact recruit for that to truly apply; something tells me a Palsson-Christian Sanders trade isn't all too desirable.

[UPDATE 6:41: I know, I know, only been a few minutes since the post was published, but somet

Oh, wait, I almost forgot: this means retiring Hawk Balls. Nevermind about everything I just said; this is a catastrophe.