Sam Cassell Jr. was just 9 years old in the spring of 2002, but one particular memory from that time still resonates in his mind.
“When [Maryland] won the national championship, the city of Baltimore was crazy,” Cassell recalled. “I just remember watching at my grandmother’s house, the whole tournament.”
Cassell decided at some point during his childhood in West Baltimore that he wanted to play basketball for the Terps. With his famous father as his guide – and semi-regular brushes around town with Juan Dixon and other basketball stars – Cassell was confident that he could reach his goals.
“At the end of my sophomore year [at Towson Catholic], I knew that I was getting good. I knew I could be good if I worked hard,” he said. “I wasn’t listening to [people who doubted me]. I just knew what kind of player I could be. … I knew I was good enough to play at that level.”
The Maryland coaching staff became convinced of Cassell’s ability after last summer when he starred for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit. Hearing from his dream school felt “pretty good,” Cassell said. And ever since his commitment to the Terps last month, Cassell has grown even more confident that he made the right decision.
“It’s been good,” he said. “Fans [have] been showing me a lot of love on Twitter, always saying they can’t wait for me to come to College Park. So I can’t wait.”
Cassell said the coaches expect him to play point guard and make up for some of the lost scoring production of Terrell Stoglin. Whatever role he ends up playing as a freshman, Cassell – who starts classes at Maryland today – is just happy to officially be a member of the team he grew up following.
“I feel good about it,” Cassell said. “My mother [and] my family couldn’t see me play for the last two years. [Now they can] come out and see me play a lot.”
Name: Sam Cassell Jr.
Birthdate: May 12, 1992
Position: Point guard
Prep School: Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)
Fifth-year statistics: 19 points, 6 assists per game
Rankings: Rivals.com -- Three-star prospect, No. 146 player nationally, No. 34 shooting guard. Scout.com -- Three-star prospect. ESPN.com -- Three-star prospect. 247Sports.com -- Three-star prospect, 86 rating.
Runner-up school: “I don’t know.”
Other schools considered: Florida State, South Florida, Pittsburgh
Favorite pro basketball player: Kevin Durant
Favorite pro basketball team: Boston Celtics
Favorite all-time Terp: Juan Dixon
Favorite book: “The Cat in the Hat”
Favorite TV show: “Martin”
Favorite food: Chicken
Favorite high school class: College math
Favorite thing about College Park: “Just the atmosphere, the fans, the campus and the team.”
Hobbies: “Basketball [and] just being with my family.”
Intended major: Undecided
Something that not many people know about you: “I’m a laidback type of person.”
Best basketball moment: “When I had 40 this year against Winchendon.”
Role model: “My father because he already lived the dream that I’m trying to live. He knows what I have to do to get there, and he’s helping me.”
Why Maryland? “I just knew that Maryland was the place because I grew up watching them. I knew I always wanted to be a Terp.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun