Could Sam Cassell Jr. still end up at Maryland after he finishes junior college? 

Matt Bracken: In the months after Cassell felt the NCAA’s wrath and was forced to delay his Division I career for two years of junior college, Maryland signed Suitland point guard Roddy Peters and landed a commitment from Bishop O’Connell combo guard Melo Trimble. The Terps also continue to recruit several 2014 guards, including Potomac’s Dion Wiley and Mount St. Joseph’s Phil Booth. So where does that leave Cassell?

For now, the former St. Frances combo guard and West Baltimore native is biding his time at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. I spoke to the former Terps signee and his coach earlier this week about his freshman year. Cassell redshirted this year, which means he can complete his associate’s degree by next spring and have three years of Division I eligibility remaining.

Even though he didn’t play this year, colleges have definitely not forgotten about what Cassell accomplished in prep school. For most JUCO players, recruiting doesn’t really start until late summer of their sophomore year at the earliest. Cassell hasn’t really begun to focus on recruiting at all, but his coach has certainly received inquiries from a variety of schools.

“I wouldn’t really feel comfortable putting out a list,” said Chipola coach Patrick Blake. “He has a lot of schools very interested, though. High-major, most definitely.” 

Where Cassell ultimately ends up depends largely on his redshirt freshman season. He’ll have a pair of talented backcourt teammates in Torian Graham and Carlos Morris, but Blake says the former Terps pledge will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills.

“I think the biggest thing [for him] will just be the adjustment of running a college team. Not only being the main scorer, but also being a great facilitator,” Blake said. “He shows that potential to continue to improve on that and be a great leader for us.”

Even though Cassell’s not focusing on recruiting, you get the sense that Maryland is still on his mind. He attended some Terps games this year, and made at least one post-game locker room appearance. It’s clear that during Cassell’s time in College Park last summer – before the NCAA ruled him ineligible – he bonded with several teammates.

“I still talk to them a lot,” Cassell said. “I still talk to a lot of guys on a daily basis. Just like Nick [Faust], Pe’Shon [Howard], Seth [Allen], the other guys. … They’re just telling me to do my thing. Just stay focused, stay on my grind.”

If Maryland decides to pursue Cassell again, I believe that he’d happily listen to what the coaches had to say. He grew up rooting for the Terps, enjoyed his brief time on campus, and wishes he were in College Park right now. But he will absolutely listen to other suitors and find the best situation for him.

Whether or not Maryland decides to go after Cassell again depends on a number of factors. Can Peters living up to his lofty ranking and be the lead guard Maryland so desperately needed this season? Will Seth Allen progress as a point guard or find his niche as a volume scorer off the ball? What role with Trimble play? Will Maryland land Wiley or Booth?

Lots of questions must be answered before this recruitment can progress, but as of right now, it appears that both parties have left the door open a crack.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

jvitale@baltsun.com

mbracken@baltsun.com