Earlier this week, Maryland got the big news that star guard Terrell Stoglin was returning to College Park for another year. But Mark Turgeon and the Terrapins weren't content with just that, and it appears they've landed another big piece to their backcourt today. Per Brian Snow, Notre Dame Prep guard and Baltimore native Sam Cassell Jr. just committed earlier today:
Out at lunch, but Sam Cassell Jr is now a Maryland Terrapin.. Done deal— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) March 25, 2012
And yes, he's the son of that Sam Cassell. Please cue up a game with Cassell and Steve Francis in the building at the same time. Early-2000s NBA-heads would explode.
Anyway: Cassell is a pretty huge get at this stage for Maryland and Mark Turgeon. They had been doing due diligence on basically every available 2012 guard, including guys like Thaddeus Hall, Jerron Wilbut, Darrick Wood, and more recently Madison Jones. They've needed a guard for quite some time now, and Cassell seemed to be the preference. The return of Stoglin made it likely they'd only add a single guard instead of possibly two, but even with Stoglin in the house it seems they wanted more versatility in the backcourt - a wise decision, especially with Pe`Shon Howard's injuries and a general lack of true guards.
Usually ranked in the three-star area, it'll be interesting to see where Cassell goes when new rankings are released. He originally played at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore before reclassifying and heading up north to Notre Dame Prep, where he refined his game and went from mid-major offers to being trailed by Maryland, UConn, Florida State, Washington, Villanova, and many other elite schools. Capable of putting up huge point totals, Cassell likely impressed everyone who saw him on the northeastern prep circuit.
I've seen Cassell in action a good bit, and the best thing about him at Maryland is how well he fits. If you identified three main needs for the Terrapins, it'd probably be someone who can play the point, an outside shooter, and a secondary perimeter scorer. And more than anyone else on the board, Cassell fills all three needs.
He isn't a pass-first distributor or a pure point; much more of a combo, or perhaps a lead guard or scoring point. I actually like him the best off the ball, but he's a good enough passer and ballhandler to run the point without issue. At 6-4 he can see over the defense and is a good passer who can find the open man. But he looks for his own shot a bit too much, and makes a few too many questionable decisions in doing so, to be considered a true point, at least for me.
His shot is probably his most impressive tool, and it can be deadly. He's not a catch-and-shoot sniper, more like a Stoglin-type volume shooter, but he has range out to 25 feet and can hit every shot. If he can knock down looks in college at around the same rate as he did at Notre Dame Prep, that's a massive asset. He doesn't slash as much as I'd like to see, but combine his 6-4 height with his unusual canny and ability to create space, and he can get his shot off against anyone from basically anywhere. And while he does have occasionally questionable shot selection, one thing's for sure: he's not afraid of scoring. With the exception of Terrell Stoglin, it seemed at times last year like Maryland was made up of players who were. (Mychal Parker and Sean Mosley weren't exactly fill-it-up types.)
Cassell is probably not a long-term answer at the point. But he can play either guard spot with ease, shoot over tough-to-crack defenses, and provide secondary buckets from the perimeter. He may not be a game-changer for Maryland, but he's a big piece who should play major minutes early.
This is Maryland's sixth commitment in the 2012 class, and their second late addition along with Charles Mitchell. Props to Mark Turgeon and the staff for identifying their needs and landing two of the best available players in Cassell and Mitchell to fill them, against tough high-major competition on both. Unless there is attrition - either commitment Damonte Dodd prepping or a current player transferring - Maryland now has all of their open scholarships filled. (I'd still expect attrition at some point, though, whether this year or the next.)
Highlights below. More later.