Sophomore wing Mychal Parker, at one point the centerpiece of former coach Gary Williams’ last recruiting class at Maryland, will transfer after two inconsistent seasons at the school, a team spokesman confirmed Monday.
In a lengthy statement published on TheRecruitScoop.com, Parker called his decision to leave “the toughest … of my life.” With the late-season surge of ACC All-Freshman guard Nick Faust and the impending arrival of forward recruit Jake Layman, ESPNBoston.com’s “Mr. Basketball,” Parker likely would have retained only a peripheral role on next season’s team.
“Recently, I met with Coach [Mark] Turgeon and he informed me that I should probably start looking at other options as he expected my opportunities on the court at Maryland to decrease due to his incoming recruits,” wrote Parker, who averaged 4.3 points and three rebounds last season, in the statement. “Unfortunately, after many sleepless and prayerful nights, I came to the realization that it may be in my best interest to continue my education and career at another institution. In the end, it’s best to be where you are wanted and needed the most.”
A consensus top-75 recruit who drew acclaim for his potential as a slashing wing, Parker arrived in College Park in 2010 with the hype now befitting his less touted classmate, guard Terrell Stoglin. As a freshman under Williams, however, he struggled to adjust to the speed and structure of the college game. He played in only 13 of the Terps’ 33 games, never scoring more than four points and seeing double-digit minutes only once in conference play.
As Parker’s play steadied last season — particularly on defense, which he often seemed oblivious to during his rookie season — so too did his playing time and role under Turgeon. His minutes per game nearly tripled, to 18 from 6.2, and he emerged during the season as a reserve option equally capable of scoring in double digits versus an ACC power (12 against Duke in February) and finishing with more turnovers than points (four and three, respectively, against North Carolina in the Terps’ March regular-season finale).
“He obviously had spurts where he was a high-level ACC player, but anytime you don’t know when you’re going to get your minutes and you’re a role player, it’s pretty hard to do your thing, if you will,” said Scott Willard, Parker’s coach for one season at The Miller School near Charlottesville, Va. “So I think he’s looking forward to a new start and a coach that believes in him.”
Parker’s three starts were the fewest of the five players remaining from Williams’ 2010 class, which also included forward Ashton Pankey (17 starts), guard Pe’Shon Howard (12), center Berend Weijs (seven) and since-departed swingman Haukur Palsson. Faust’s emergence as an athletic stopper and increasingly reliable scorer, meanwhile, boded poorly for Parker’s 2012-13 prospects, as did the likely return of the injured Howard and this summer’s arrival of a sizable recruiting class.
“We appreciate the effort and commitment Mychal made to our success and our program this season,” Turgeon said in a release Monday. “We certainly wish him well as he continues his academic and athletic pursuits.”
Parker, who did not return a call to his cell phone seeking further comment, wrote in his statement that three schools — East Carolina, Alabama-Birmingham and Loyola — have so far shown interest. East Carolina is located near his Washington, N.C., hometown, and UAB assistant Rob Ehsan recruited Parker to Maryland out of high school.
“Again, I’d like to stress how grateful I am for the University of Maryland’s opportunities and support over the last two years,” Parker wrote in the statement. “I will continue to support Maryland in any way possible. I have made friends for life here, and am very torn by this situation.”