With each passing day, Shaquille Cleare becomes a little more aware of what he can expect as a Maryland basketball player.
The headliner of a recruiting class expected to help the Terps become a regular NCAA tournament participant again, Cleare saw the passion of the Maryland fan base at the Capital Classic last month, and reads their enthusiasm regularly on Twitter.
“Oh man, it’s just been really crazy,” Cleare said. Maryland fans are “just tweeting, ‘I can’t wait for you to get down there.’ It’s getting crazy. I just want to come in, give my all, work hard and do it for Terp nation.”
Cleare, a consensus four-star prospect, doesn’t take his role as the centerpiece of Maryland’s 2012 class lightly. The 6-foot-8 ½ post player from the Bahamas – who played his high school ball at Houston’s Village School – knows that the expectations of him are lofty. Cleare said he’s got work to do before the season to get into college-ready shape, but the future Terp is optimistic that he can provide some of what Maryland needs.
“[I] just want to come in, bring inside size,” Cleare said. “I want to be a go-to guy. If they need that next bucket, look down low and get the ball to Shaq. I’ll bring enough confidence, a lot of fire and excitement, getting my team pumped to do whatever.”
Cleare plans to move to College Park sometime next month. He can’t wait to be reunited with classmates Sam Cassell Jr., Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell. All four Maryland signees – plus power forward commitment Damonte Dodd – teamed up at the Capital Classic in Alexandria, Va., last month.
“We’ve become really close, especially after the all-star game in D.C.,” Cleare said. “We became really close. I’m really excited to play with them in College Park this year. I think it’ll be a good season. I’m really excited about it.”
Name: Shaquille Cleare
Birthdate: Feb. 19, 1993
Birthplace: Nassau, Bahamas
Hometown: Andros, Bahamas
Height: 6-8 1/2
Position: “I’m more of a 4 but can play the 5 as well.”
High School: The Village School in Houston
Senior statistics: 26.5 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists per game
Rankings: Rivals.com – Four-star prospect, No. 13 center, No. 53 player nationally. Scout.com – Four-star prospect, No. 11 center, No. 37 player nationally. ESPN.com – Four-star prospect, No. 8 center, No. 6 player in Texas, No. 30 player nationally, 96 rating. 247Sports.com – Four-star prospect, No. 9 power forward, No. 6 player in Texas, No. 36 player nationally, 97 rating.
Runner-up school: “I don’t know. That’s a good question. I don’t know where I would be, to be honest. I probably would have stayed in Texas.”
Other schools considered: Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Arizona, Florida, Miami
Favorite pro basketball player: Blake Griffin
Favorite pro basketball team: Los Angeles Lakers
Favorite all-time Terp: “I didn’t grow up watching Maryland. I don’t really know the history. I don’t have a favorite.”
Favorite music: J Cole, Bob Marley, 2 Chainz
Favorite book: “The Blind Side” by Michael Lewis
Favorite TV show: ESPN
Favorite food: Buffalo wings
Favorite high school class: Literature and history
Favorite thing about College Park: “The people. It’s a nice campus. And Comcast Center.”
Hobbies: “Working out, going to movies, hanging out with friends, listening to music.”
Intended major: Communications
Something that not many people know about you: “I can be a comedian sometimes. I’ve got a couple jokes up my sleeves.”
Best basketball moment: “The [AAU] national championship in Orlando last year against BABC and [Kentucky-bound center] Nerlens Noel. I did really well. We won the championship [and I] finished with 12 points, 10 boards.”
Role model: “Probably my coach, Coach [Don] Harvey, because I know he’s a leader, he does positive things and he’s a Christian guy. He’s someone I like to follow – him and my dad. They’re both great men and role models.”
Why Maryland? “It’s a great school, great atmosphere. The coaches kept it real with me. [They said], ‘If you come in, work hard, you’ll play.’ [Other coaches said], ‘We’ll let you come and play right away.’ [Maryland] will actually make me work for what I want. Beautiful people, beautiful campus. The ACC is one of the best conferences. If you can shine there, you’re ready for the next level. And especially the coaching staff. [Mark] Turgeon, I wanted him to be one of my coaches. I think it was a great move for me when he went to Maryland. It was a great fit for me.”
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