The Maryland men’s basketball program has been relatively quiet in terms of potential 2015 prospects. However, that may be about to change.
In this article, Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn briefly–and to everyone’s surprise–mentions that 2015 big man Ivan Bender will play for Maryland this year. What makes this strange is that no local reporter has confirmed the commitment of the 6’9″ power forward from Croatia. However, the commitment was confirmed here by Igor Marinovic back on August 1.
However, until someone stateside is able to confirm Bender’s commitment, we must assume that Bender is not a Terrapin quite yet. Bender currently does not have a recruiting page from the main recruiting services, but is ranked the 43rd-best international player from DraftExpress.com.
The potential news comes as no surprise Maryland is looking at another big man for the upcoming 2014-15 season after the departure of freshman big man Trayvon Reed. Right now, Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd and Jonothan Graham are the only true big men on the roster. With three players with a lot to prove and increased roles, an “insurance” big man would definitely come in handy.
This is where Bender comes into play. Although there is little tape on him, he did participate in the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Croatia. In seven games, Bender averaged 10.1 minutes-per-game and shot 69 percent from the field on 11-of=16 shooting. What also stood out was that he went 1-of-2 on three-point shots (FIBA three-point line is 20 feet, whereas college basketball is 20.75 feet). Although just two shots, it seems as if he’s a versatile big that can stretch the floor. However, he seemed to get himself into foul trouble throughout the tournament as he also averaged one foul every seven minutes.
Nonetheless, these statistics are over two years old, so it’s hard to say how much his game has developed since. This tweet cited that Bender is currently rehabbing from a torn ACL, but can be a contributor once he returns.
While the Bender news is not official, there is a strong indication that he will eventually be a Terp. We’ll have the latest on this story as it develops.