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Maryland's Andrew Terrell not quite ready to throw in the towel on college basketball career

Andrew Terrell doesn’t give much thought these days to what might have been had he not taken Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon up on his offer to be a walk-on four years ago.

Had he not changed his mind, two weeks before classes were scheduled to start at Indiana in late summer of 2015, Terrell would likely be headed to his last game as a Hoosier fan Sunday at Assembly Hall against Rutgers.

Instead, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Terrell will be honored Friday, along with forward Ivan Bender and two student managers, on senior night before Maryland’s regular-season finale against Minnesota at Xfinity Center.

Recalling why he had initially turned down the Terps, Terrell said recently: “Honestly, I didn’t want to play basketball anymore. I was ready to be a regular student. But when I first got the call, one of my friends asked me, ‘Do you honestly think you can sit in the stands and watch a game?’

“I do wonder what my life would have been like, but this is so much better. Not many people can say they’ve been a part of something like this. This is something I’ll be able to tell my kids and give them something to dream about. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life more than anything at IU as a regular student.”

Had he remained at Indiana, Terrell would have missed swishing a 3-pointer to cap off Maryland’s win over Rhode Island in the championship game at a tournament in Cancun his freshman season and “starting the riot” in which Turgeon was pulled away from former Rams coach Danny Hurley in a postgame fracas.

Terrell would have missed going to the Sweet 16 later that season, and, most significantly, he would have missed getting a scholarship from Turgeon in late December for his final semester. He also would have missed putting together his quirky online TV show early in his career and writing the “Tilted Bench” blog this season.

And mostly, he would have missed starting a tradition of hanging a white towel from his neck for each game.

“That was just one of those things, I wore it the first game and we won and I just kept continuing,” Terrell said. “Then it got turned into a big thing from other people.”

Acknowledging that the towel will likely be retired after Maryland’s last game this season, Terrell would like the Terps to keep playing for a while, especially since this means the end of his college basketball career.

“I want the season to go on as long as possible,” he said Thursday.

As much as Terrell always looked as if he was having a good time during a career that includes playing in 25 games for total of 46 minutes — “I try to keep things as light as possible. I think that’s kind of how I played my role through this entire four years,” he said — his four years were not without their struggles.

They were both emotional and physical.

Terrell said that he thought about quitting after his freshman year when one of his closest friends on the team, Jake Layman, was graduating and one of his roommates, star guard Melo Trimble, was thinking about turning pro after his sophomore year.

Trimble stayed, and so did Terrell. Terrell jokingly started an online campaign to get 10,000 likes on an Instagram post showing he and Trimble to convince Trimble to return for his junior year. Though it had more to do with the assessment of pro scouts, Trimble stayed.

“I had a moment [after his sophomore year] of, ‘Gosh, what am I going to do? Do I actually want to keep playing?’” recalled Terrell, who remains close to both former players. “’That next class came in [for his junior year] and it was Anthony [Cowan Jr.] and Kevin [Huerter] and those guys.

“It completely changed my perspective on things. Immediately all those guys clicked and we all clicked together and obviously we’re all long-term friends and will be bros for the rest of our lives. All that stuff is worth it. … I came here knowing no one and I got a new family every year.”

The biggest obstacle was overcoming a serious injury suffered last season.

During a practice one afternoon in late December, Terrell went to set a screen and put his left foot down toes first, then felt his leg get tangled with another player. He wound up tearing the ligaments in his left ankle and breaking a bone in the bottom of his left foot.

He was carried off by two teammates, one of them Bender.

The injury, which occurred the day before Bender tore his meniscus in a game against UMBC, took nearly 10 months of rehabilitation for Terrell to get back on the court.

Again, Terrell credits the camaraderie with his teammates for helping him stick it out. Not that Terrell was always confident he could play again, or that his foot is back to normal more than a year later. He still has numbness in the toes.

“There was a moment when I didn’t think I would be able to jump off of it again,” Terrell said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to move my toes again because I couldn’t feel anything in there. … It was brutal.”

Turgeon told Terrell there would always be a spot of the team for him.

“I knew I’d still be on the team, I’d just be hurt. Coach Turgeon told me that there’s other things I could do,” he said. “I could still try to walk through things [at practice]. Help scout. I knew I would be involved with the team in one way or another.”

Turgeon surprised Terrell with a scholarship for his final semester. The team captured the moment on video, which occurred during a pregame scouting session and the players swarmed Terrell as if he had just hit a game-winning shot.

“It was incredible,” he said. “I had no idea it was going to happen and out of nowhere it did happen. As my parents said, it wasn’t about the money, it was more a check mark in my life that I wanted to complete. Coach gave the opportunity to check that off.”

Turgeon is appreciative for the contribution Terrell and Bender have made to his program.

“I think my favorite memories of them is of what great kids they are,” Turgeon said Thursday. “They both have dynamic personalities. … They’ve always been great teammates, they’ve always put the team first, the program first.

“For two guys that don’t play a lot, for them to take on a leadership role with this team shows the respect that they have from their teammates. They’ve done a great job with that this year. … They’re both funny, and they make us laugh a lot. I’d love to send those guys out with a win.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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