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Maryland coach Mark Turgeon 'proud' of what he's done as he signs four-year extension

Terps beat writer Don Markus on the contract extention of men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

The fact that Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon only had three years remaining on his original eight-year contract didn't appear to hurt him when he put together his 2016 recruiting class, including the three players he added after last season ended.

Still, Turgeon can now go into the homes of current recruits with a little more certainty that he will be there for the entirety of their college basketball careers. That much has been guaranteed by the contract extension Maryland gave the 51-year-old coach.

Turgeon, who has more wins (114) in his first five seasons at Maryland than any men's basketball coach in school history, signed a four-year extension that will run through the 2022-23 season.

The deal, announced by the university Thursday, is worth a little more than $2.5 million annually, according to a copy of the contract obtained by The Baltimore Sun through the Maryland Public Information Act.

The contract adds $425,000 in annual performance bonuses, including $50,000 each for winning a Big Ten regular-season and tournament title, $75,000 for reaching the Sweet 16 and $200,000 for winning a national championship. There is no buyout in the contract extension.

The announcement comes as Turgeon is trying to lock down several players for 2017, including four-star guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph), and is busily recruiting for 2018, including Morsell's teammate, five-star forward Jalen Smith.

The contract extension comes on the heels of two straight NCAA tournaments, including last year's 27-9 team reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.

It also comes after Turgeon and his staff scrambled last spring to put together a top-10 recruiting class following fall commitments from just two players, Anthony Cowan Jr. and Kevin Huerter, and then losing four starters including NBA rookies Jake Layman and Diamond Stone.

Turgeon later signed four-star forward Justin Jackson, three-star forward Micah Thomas and Spanish forward Joshua Tomaic.

"There's no question, the players and their families want to know if you're going to be here. They start counting the years left on the contract you have," Turgeon said in a phone interview Thursday. "It's definitely a positive for the recruiting and the stability within our program."

Tom Huerter, who played college basketball at Siena, said his son Kevin, New York State's reigning Mr. Basketball, signed largely because of Turgeon and his staff.

"Mark and his staff were a very big part of Kevin's decision," the elder Huerter said in a phone interview Thursday. "Our being comfortable with Mark coaching and leading and teaching our son makes us very comfortable with Kevin being six hours away from us."

The news of the contract extension was a nice way for Huerter to start his career.

"From our perspective, we're extremely happy that Mark has signed a contract to be there for Kevin's four years at Maryland," the elder Huerter said. "Coach Turgeon was a huge part of his decision. The fact that he signed an extension not only shows he has the support of the university but he'll be there for Kevin's entire tenure."

Though some fans were disappointed by the overall performance of last year's team — the Terps were picked to win the Big Ten and finished tied for third, and some experts including ESPN's Jay Bilas picked them to win the national championship going into the season — Maryland officials clearly believe Turgeon has brought the program back to national prominence.

"Mark has built a program that we are incredibly proud of as he continues to lead the great tradition that is Maryland basketball," athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a statement released Thursday. "I am proud of the academic and athletic success that the men's basketball team has achieved under Mark's leadership the past five years."

Said Turgeon, "I'm grateful to Kevin Anderson and [Maryland president Wallace D.] Loh for believing in me and giving me the contract. I love being the coach here. I've said that. Maryland's a special place. I love everything about it. Dealing with former players, former coaches, dealing with the student-athletes, I'm just grateful to continue to do something that I love."

It wasn't easy for Turgeon to reach this point.

After being hired from Texas A&M in May 2011 on the heels of future Hall of Famer Gary Williams' sudden retirement, Turgeon immediately lost the majority of the incoming recruiting class, including Justin Anderson, who became a star at Virginia and a first-round NBA draft pick.

Maryland finished 17-15 in Turgeon's first season and again in his third after center Alex Len left following his sophomore year to become the fifth overall pick in the draft, then saw five players with remaining eligibility transfer in the spring of 2014.

The arrival of point guard Melo Trimble a few months later helped resurrect the program.

Picked to finish 10th in their first season in the Big Ten, the Terps came in second at 14-4 and went 28-7 overall behind the play of Trimble and senior guard Dez Wells. Maryland returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years.

While last year's team slumped the final month with an injured Trimble running the point — the Terps lost six of their last 11 games after a 22-3 start — Turgeon said he believes the program is ready to make another run in the Big Ten this season despite the turnover of the roster and the relative youth of the team.

"It gives them stability, it really does," ESPN analyst Dick Vitale told The Baltimore Sun on Thursday. "It brings back memories of Gary Williams. They have a coach, they like him, they believe in him. He's done a solid job. ... The guy's a solid tactician, he understands people and he know how to get people to play."

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Vitale said the 2013-14 season, which prompted a mass exodus of players from the program, "was a tough year, but they really regrouped. He showed his resilience, he came back with Melo Trimble and really turned things around. He deserves this."

As for those who were unhappy with the way the season turned out a year ago? "Maryland is moving in the right direction, they're comfortable, they understand he's a good leader and they're not about making a change because maybe last year didn't live up to what some people thought they should have been."

The body of work goes beyond the basketball court for Turgeon.

"I'm proud of what my staff and the players and I have accomplished," Turgeon said. "We've won a lot of games. We've won 114 games, 55 the past two years, changing leagues like we did and being successful in the Big Ten the way we've done it.

"We're graduating kids [all 10 with no eligibility left], we've got guys playing in the NBA. What the program looks like now and what the future looks like, I'm just really proud of what we've accomplished and hopefully it's just going to get better."

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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