Sean Obi, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound center whose promising college career was curtailed by injuries and limited opportunity after transferring from Rice to Duke three years ago, will transfer to Maryland, Terps coach Mark Turgeon announced Thursday.
Obi, who was hosted by Turgeon and his team Monday, will graduate from Duke next month and will immediately be eligible to play next season for the Terps.
“We are excited to welcome Sean to Maryland,” Turgeon said in a statement. “As a graduate transfer, he brings high character, experience and maturity to our team. Sean is a good rebounder and gives us another physical presence inside. He is also a very good student. Sean is healthy and ready to contribute.”
As a freshman at Rice, Obi led Conference USA in rebounding with 9.3 per game, and had 13 games with double-digit rebounds, including a career-high 19 in a triple-overtime win over South Alabama. He also scored a career-high 25 points in that game. Obi averaged 11.4 points for the Owls as a freshman.
After transferring to Duke and sitting out the Blue Devils' 2014-15 national championship season, Obi started to experience knee problems. He played sparingly in 2015-16, with just 27 minutes in 10 games. He underwent offseason knee surgery a year ago and did not play last season.
"I am very appreciative to have the opportunity to attend the University of Maryland," Obi said. "I want to thank Coach Turgeon and the staff. I immediately created a unique bond with the coaches during my visit. Maryland is a place where I am confident I can make a major impact. The campus is also in very close proximity to where my family lives and they'll be able to come see me play. Maryland is a great University with outstanding tradition and I am very excited to be a part of it. I am looking forward to playing for Coach Turgeon and doing something special with a great group of guys next year."
Obi was a teammate at Duke with Rasheed Sulaimon, who after becoming the first player dismissed by Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski transferred to Maryland. Also a graduate transfer, Sulaimon started every game for the Terps in 2015-16, when the team finished 27-9 and advanced to the school’s first Sweet 16 since 2003.
With the departure of senior center Damonte Dodd and graduate transfer forward L.G. Gill, who played for Maryland last season after three years at Duquesne, Obi is expected to back up rising senior center Michal Cekovsky, who is coming off an injury-plagued junior year.
If fully recovered from his knee problems, Obi could become a valuable piece for the 2017-18 team. One of Maryland’s biggest problems last season was its lack of rebounding. The Terps finished tied for 189th (out of 347) in the country overall, and toward the bottom of the Big Ten is all rebounding categories.
Once he graduates, Obi will become the fifth graduate transfer to play for Maryland in Turgeon’s first seven years. Logan Aronhalt played for the Terps in 2012-13 after graduating from Albany. After graduating from North Carolina A&T, Richaud Pack started most of the 2014-15 season, which ended with Maryland’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2010.