Maryland basketball took another body blow yesterday when it was announced that forward Gus Gilchrist was granted a release to seek a transfer to another school outside the ACC. According to his "handler" Gilchrist wants to transfer to a school where he will have four years of eligibility remaining instead of the two and a half years he would have if he stayed at Maryland. The ACC has denied two appeals by Gilchrist of their decision to take away his fall semester this coming season. It sounded like Gary Williams knew this was coming and the recent parade of junior college big men coming to College Park would suggest they were trying to set up emergency alternatives if, or when, Gilchrist left.
I don't have much to say about Gilchrist. He seems to be very talented but has also displayed very questionable judgment. His first mistake was committing to Virginia Tech prematurely and then he botched his decision to opt out of his letter of intent there. Unless he is granted a waiver by the NCAA he will have to sit out another year due to standard transfer rules. It seems unlikely that he will have the justifications usually needed to secure a waiver. There seems to be no bad blood between Maryland and Gilchrist. He came to Maryland out of the blue and seems to have left just as quickly. Easy come, easy go.
Maryland will now scramble to find some frontcourt help. With Shane Walker's departure the Terps will have just ten scholarship players on the roster, unless something changes. A frontcourt of Braxton Dupree, Jerome Burney, Dave Neal and Dino Gregory is easily the worst collection of post players in the ACC. Look for Landon Milbourne to play more as an undersized power forward as a stop gap measure. None of the returning frontcourt players has demonstrated the ability to be a starter quality forward in the ACC.
As always Gary Williams is still optimistic that Maryland can be competitive this fall. With Vasquez the Terrapins will have one of the top two guards in the entire ACC coming back but it is a real question if Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker, or Milbourne can provide the needed talent to support him. My guess at the moment is that Maryland is probably a 5-6 win team in the ACC, and that is only based on Williams' ability as a coach. In all likelihood it is shaping up to be the worst season Maryland has had in almost 15 years.
The two wildcards are Sean Mosley and Jin Soo Kim. There are now rumors that Mosley may fail to qualify academically and will use his prep year as an opportunity to explore other options. It is too early to tell if those rumors have any validity or are just some justified paranoia by Terps fans. Kim will attempt to reclassify for 2008 and if successful he will contribute right away out of necessity. If both those players arrive on campus then Maryland has the chance to be competitive and maybe contend for an NIT bid, if neither show up it will be a long year in College Park. I hesitate to say things couldn't possibly get worse, because they could, but they can't go much lower. I had felt that the program was gaining back some momentum after the debacles of 2004 and 2005 but I now think that there are dark days still coming for Terrapins basketball. The mishandling of the program after the national title and some questionable recruiting decisions are still haunting this program as the repercussions of this tumultuous spring have shown.