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Ashton Pankey will transfer from Maryland

Ashton Pankey  will leave Maryland and transfer to a school closer to his New York City home, the UM athletic department announced today.

Pankey, a 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman, told Maryland coach Mark Turgeon that he wanted to finish his college career near his home in the Bronx so that he could aid his family.

“My mom is the rock in my life and I promised her I would take care of her like she did for me,” Pankey said in a news release. “Therefore, I am choosing to put my family first and look for a school closer to home.

“I’m sad that I must leave the University of Maryland, as I have enjoyed my time here with my teammates and coaches who have been my second family. I would like to thank them for their support during this time. I’ve become a better person and player while at Maryland.”

Said Turgeon: “Ashton was raised in a close-knit home; he and his mother are very close. We support him in this difficult time. It was great to have Ashton as a part of our program; we appreciate the hard work that he put in academically as well as on the court.  He has a lot of potential and we wish him success moving forward.”

Pankey, who redshirted during the 2010-11 season while dealing with a stress fracture in his leg, averaged 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Terps last season. The redshirt freshman scored a career-high 17 against Radford and grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds against Iona and Virginia Tech.

“I thank my coach, assistant coaches and teammates, as well as the continued devotion of Maryland fans,” said Pankey, who started 17 games as a redshirt freshman.

Pankey would’ve likely faced an uphill battle for minutes as a redshirt sophomore. The Terps return James Padgett and Alex Len in the frontcourt, and have signed power forward Charles Mitchell and center/forward Shaquille Cleare in the 2012 class. The Terps also landed Michigan power forward transfer Evan Smotrycz, and have a commitment from 6-foot-9 power forward Damonte Dodd.

Pankey, who committed to the Terps in Nov. 2009, originally picked Maryland over offers from Drexel, Hofstra, Houston and Rice. SNY.tv reported Tuesday that Pankey is expected to consider St. John’s, Iona and Fordham.

Every member of Maryland’s 2010 recruiting class – except for point guard Pe’Shon Howard – has now left the program. Pankey, Mychal Parker (Loyola), Terrell Stoglin (NBA draft), Haukur Palsson (Europe) and Berend Weijs (graduated) made up the rest of the Terps’ 2010 group.

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