At a time when the stability of Maryland’s men’s basketball program has been in question, Robert Carter may have provided the best form of support for embattled coach Mark Turgeon.
The 6-foot-8, 247-pound power forward— considered one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s most promising big men before announcing plans to transfer — signed with the Terps on Friday. He then praised Turgeon for his vision and said he wasn’t concerned about the fact that five scholarship players transferred from Maryland after the season
“I feel like he’s doing and they’re doing what’s best for the program,” Carter said of Turgeon, who just completed his third season at Maryland. “He’s a great guy. He can’t control who wants to leave the program. He has a plan set for the guys who are there, and that’s all I’m worried about.”
Carter averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Yellow Jackets last season despite missing 10 games with a torn meniscus. He must sit out the 2014-15 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, but he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after that.
Carter committed to the Terps after visiting College Park for a couple of days this week and returning home to Thomasville, Ga., to discuss the decision with his parents. Carter had also visited St. John’s and South Carolina and was reportedly considering Kansas.
When he called Turgeon to inform him of his decision, Carter said that his new coach was “ecstatic.”
“They’re all big, but Robert’s a special player, great potential,” Turgeon said. “With everything that is going on [at Maryland}, he believes in me, he believes in Maryland. That’s big.”
Turgeon said he tried to recruit Carter out of high school shortly after taking the job at Maryland.
“We were behind. We didn’t have much of a chance,” Turgeon said.
Turgeon is not done filling the roster spots left by the five scholarship players who left College Park since the end of the season.
Having already added former North Carolina A&T shooting guard Richaud Pack for next season, Turgeon will try to convince West Virginia transfer Terry Henderson to join Carter for the start of the 2015-16.
Henderson, who also has two years of eligibility remaining, is scheduled to make a visit to Maryland this weekend, a source said Thursday.
The Terps, who this week welcomed a five-player incoming freshman class ranked No. 9 in the nation by ESPN, have one scholarship spot remaining.
After Seth Allen became the fourth player to announce his departure this offseason, Turgeon said he was going to do things “differently” in the future in terms of recruiting.
Two weeks later, Charles Mitchell became the fifth to announce he was leaving, joining Allen and Shaquille Cleare from the 2012 recruiting class as well as rising senior Nick Faust (City) and rising sophomore Roddy Peters.
“I don’t think you can bring in five or six freshmen every year and keep everybody happy,” Turgeon said. “Obviously Robert’s going to redshirt next year, so that’s one guy on your roster that’s not worried about playing time. People are going to leave, no matter how hard you try to do things the right way. You want to make sure the kids are committed and you want to study them a little more.”
Carter, who describes himself as a “chill person” who doesn’t seek the spotlight, was hosted in College Park by Jake Layman, the lone remaining member of the 2012 recruiting class. Carter said he was impressed by how hard the Terps worked with Kyle Tarp, the director of basketball performance.
“Just being around those guys, watching them work out and seeing them put in the work really made me excited about wanting to come here,” Carter said.
Carter said he didn’t even bring up the 19-point, 10-rebound performance he had against the Terps as a freshman in a 10-point victory for the Yellow Jackets. For his career, he’s averaged 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds.
“I really don’t talk too much,” Carter said. “I let my game speak for itself.”