Former Rhode Island senior guard Daron “Fatts” Russell is transferring to the Maryland men’s basketball team, he announced Saturday, giving the Terps a proven playmaker at the point guard position for the 2021-22 season.
It’s the second high-profile get in the transfer portal for coach Mark Turgeon and his staff after former Georgetown center Qudus Wahab announced Saturday morning that he was joining the Terps.
Russell, who has twice been selected to the All-Atlantic 10 team and conference all-defensive team, will have one year of eligibility remaining as the NCAA extended an extra year for winter sports athletes as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Russell, a Philadelphia native who played high school basketball at Imhotep Charter with Maryland sophomore forward Donta Scott, averaged 14.7 points and 4.5 assists this past season as he was named third-team All-Atlantic 10.
Russell’s arrival should allow sophomore guard Hakim Hart, who played out of position and split point-guard duties with junior guard Eric Ayala in 2020, to move off-ball while also taking pressure off Ayala to facilitate the offense. He cited his relationship with players such as Scott, Ayala and Hart, the latter of whom is also from Philadelphia, as playing a pivotal role in his decision to come to College Park, as well as the ability to contribute immediately as a lead guard.
“What really sold me on joining Maryland is, obviously, coach Turgeon is a great coach,” Russell told The Baltimore Sun in a phone interview. “I feel like he does a great job with his players and everything like that, and I feel like I can trust him. ... He emphasized that to me, that they didn’t have a point guard last year, that I would be coming in and trying to fill in that role. That played a big part but I’m just trying to be a part of something special. That’s the main thing.”
Maryland, which will also welcome four-star Class of 2021 Baltimore signees Julian Reese and Ike Cornish next season, has no remaining open scholarships for the upcoming season but more could become available as a result of transfers or players leaving early for the NBA draft.