We’re a few days from the first meaningful Maryland basketball game of the season, so it’s about time we do a little preview of the upcoming year to be for the Terps. Over the next few days, we’re going to look at the different positions as collective units, continuing today with the forwards.
The only starting senior on the roster is Sean Mosley (6’4″), who is technically a guard, but since he will starting at the three we decided to keep him in the forward section. The senior was a full-time starter the past two seasons, and started half of his games as a freshman in the 2008-09 campaign. He’s averaged 7.8 points per game over his Terp career after a drop of nearly two points from his sophomore to junior campaigns. Mosley is a lockdown defender who has struggled scoring the ball in conference play, especially from beyond the arc – he shot 26.9% from three last season. The 20 he scored against Northwood was a good sign, but he’s done this in meaningless non-conference games before.
Joining him will be redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey (6’9″), everyone’s favorite candidate for breakout player this season. Pankey turned a strong fall workout/practice season into a starting spot, and had a very good game against Northwood in the exhibition (like he did against Florida Southern in last year’s exhibition). Pankey said earlier in the year that his goal is to lead the ACC in rebounding, and he certainly attacked the boards last weekend. The problem with the redshirt freshman remains his durability – his missed his senior season of high school and all of last year with serious leg injuries – but if he stays healthy, he can be a force inside. We haven’t seen any real post moves from him yet, but he has good hands and is very long.
The only scholarship back-up Maryland has at forward is Mychal Parker (6’5″), the talented true sophomore who quickly fell out of favor with Gary Williams last year. As a senior in high school, he averaged 21 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game and was a highly touted prospect but apparently played in a very simple system that did not prepare him for the college game. Last season, he averaged 1.3 points in 6.2 minutes per game in only 13 appearances, but showed flashes of unbelievable athleticism at times. He can play anywhere from the two to the four, and should see a solid increase in his playing time from last year.
There are three walk-on forwards – Jacob Susskind (6’5″), John Auslander (6’7″), and Spencer Barks (6’9″). Susskind, from Golda Och Academy in West Orange, Nj., was named first team all-state prep as a senior even after suffering a knee injury. As a junior, he averaged 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists per game and as a sophomore he posted averages of 18, nine and six. Auslander is a sophomore transfer from Greensboro College in North Carolina, and sat out last season due to NCAA Transfer rules. In his one year at Greensboro, he averaged 1.4 points and 1.0 rebounds in 7.4 minutes in 25 appearances. Barks is from St. Albans, where he was a two-time all-conference selection, and averaged a double-double his senior year.
Mosley is the most experienced player on this team by a pretty wide margin, but his inconsistency has hurt the Terps in the past. He showed his scoring ability against Northwood, and we already know he’s a very good defender, so if he can prove to be a solid scoring option along side Stoglin and Faust, this team can outperform expectations.
As for Pankey, he also looks very good. He’s got a great passing game inside and is a talented rebounder, but the question remains whether or not he can play a whole season without the old leg issues flaring up. If he can stay healthy, he can be a presence inside for the Terps.
However, Maryland has the same issue here that they have at the guard positions – depth. Parker is the only scholarship backup, and he’s still extremely raw. After that, it’s three walk-ons. The most likely of the three to play is Auslander, as he was with the program last year, but the less of those three Maryland sees on the court, the better. There are three players at center (which we’ll talk about in our next installment of this series), and some of those will see time at power forward as well.
Grade: C+. There is potential here, as Mosley, Pankey, and Parker have all shown that they can be quality players at time. The only issues here are consistency and health, which have plagued all three of those players in one way or another in the past.