Within his seven years of recruiting as Maryland’s head coach, Mark Turgeon has established the ability to land effective graduate transfers.
Terrapin fans can recall Rasheed Sulaimon, who after three years as a Duke Blue Devil, transferred to Maryland for his final season. Sulaimon played in every game for the Terrapins during the 2015-’16 season and notched career highs in assists per game, minutes per game, and field goal percentage.
Upon the graduation of Sean Obi, the center will become Turgeon’s fifth graduate transfer to play with the Maryland Terrapins during Turgeon’s tenure.
Obi was actually Sulaimon’s teammate at Duke, and as Rasheed did, Obi has a chance to heavily contribute for Maryland.
Damonte Dodd and L.G. Gill, two big men who were decently involved last season, have graduated. Dodd averaged 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game for the Terrapins. Gill contributed an average of 3.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game for Maryland last season.
Though senior forward Michal Cekovsky will most likely start over Obi next season, Cekovsky missed 16 games last season due to injuries.
Similar to Cekovsky, Obi has had an injury-filled collegiate career. Obi began battling knee problems with Duke during the 2015-’16 season. As a result, Obi played only a total of 27 minutes in 10 games that season. Then, Obi had knee surgery during the following offseason and proceeded to miss the entire 2016-’17 season before transferring to Maryland.
While health is a major red flag with Obi, the statistics imply that the 6-foot-9, 255-pound big man can do some major damage when healthy.
Obi’s freshman season at Rice was the only season during the center’s NCAA career that wasn’t affected by an injury. Though this was back in the 2013-’14 season, Obi was dominant.
The center led the Conference USA in rebounding for Rice with an average of 9.3 boards per game. Obi also averaged 11.3 points per game and collected 11 double-doubles as a freshman. Obi scored over 20 points on two separate occasions and was on the floor for 791 minutes for Rice.
Even with Justin Jackson, Dodd, and Gill playing last season, Maryland really struggled in the rebounding department. Maryland was only the 187th best rebounding team in the NCAA. The Terrapins had just the 11th best rebounding offense and ninth best rebounding defense in the Big Ten last season. Maryland’s rebounding margin per game was also near the bottom of the Big Ten at number 11.
In his one healthy season at Rice, Obi grabbed double-digit rebounds in 17 games. While the center has proved that he can be a scoring threat as well, Obi’s rebounding capabilities should immediately give him a major spot in Maryland’s rotation.
The Terrapins simply don’t have many players that can rebound very effectively. Even if Cekovsky doesn’t get injured, Obi could eventually find his way into Maryland’s starting five. If Obi is able to score like he did at Rice as well, it will be hard for Turgeon to keep Obi out of the lineup. Turgeon and company are hoping the former Duke center can stay healthy during the 2017-’18 season.