COLLEGE PARK — Top recruit Nick Faust arrived at Maryland with a hitch in his shooting stroke, a tendency to miss the occasional dunk during workouts, and a story to tell about how the Terps almost lost him after coach Gary Williams retired in May.
Someday — perhaps even this season — the talented City graduate may become a college basketball star. But that doesn't mean the 6-foot-6 guard with a youthful face and wispy mustache won't first have some growing up to do.
The learning process began before Faust had even enrolled.
Faust had committed to Maryland before he learned that Williams was retiring and Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon would be the coach. The lesson seemed to be that things don't always go as planned, and Faust and his family decided to take some time to consider their options.
Turgeon quickly contacted the family, telling them that Maryland needed Nick, who has known Terps assistant coach Bino Ranson since he was about 10.
"My first conversation with the mom was not good. She was very upset," Turgeon said Wednesday as the team gathered for its Media Day at Comcast Center. "I get her on the phone and she's screaming and yelling and saying she wants her release. I'm trying to keep her calm, and she's mad that I'm probably saying that right now. She goes, 'We just don't trust any coaches right now. Coach Williams said he was going to be here two or three more years.'"
But Turgeon persevered.
"I said, 'Well Lisa, if Nick doesn't come here, I won't be here two or three years,'" he said. "So she laughed at that and loosened up."
Faust decided to remain with Turgeon and Maryland.
"It was a thing of me getting a feel for him," Faust said as he sat at a table along the baseline and spoke to a cluster of reporters.
It helped Maryland that Turgeon had decided to retain Ranson, who had been an assistant under Williams. Ranson, a St. Frances graduate, once founded an Amateur Athletic Union team in Baltimore and had stints as an assistant at Xavier, James Madison and Marist.
"Coach Bino played a big part — knowing him since I was a youngster," Faust said.
Turgeon and the other coaches clearly like Faust.
"Nick's been great — put on a lot of weight, he's getting stronger," Turgeon said. "Nick's going to have to play."
But there is also a sense that the coaches don't want to inflate the fan base's expectations for Faust, because his game is still a work in progress.
The lefty has been working to smooth out his form and remove the hitch in his shot.
"It's still kind of funny looking," sophomore guard Pe'Shon Howard said. "But it's pure. It goes in."
And then there are those dunks during the team's workouts.
"[Faust] missed a lot of wide-open dunks. It was just funny," Howard said. "He'd be down on a fast break by himself and it would be like, 'Nick, just make the dunk.' Now he windmills on people and two-hands. So I think it's just kind of the carelessness of high school kind of got out of him."
NOTES: Alex Len, the 7-foot-1 recruit from Ukraine, sat in a red folding chair at midcourt but didn't take questions from the media. Maryland decided not to overwhelm him by asking him to conduct interviews. Turgeon said a preliminary decision in expected Friday by an NCAA clearinghouse on Len's playing status. The Terps may then have to wait another week to learn whether Len is approved to play at the start of the season. …Turgeon said forward Ashton Pankey, who missed most of last season with a stress fracture in his leg, is healthy. "From what I've seen, he's by far our best rebounder," the coach said.
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