Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:27 am

Top-25 big man Shaq Cleare pops for Maryland

By Jeff Borzello

In a class filled with great big man, Shaquille Cleare is perhaps the biggest of them all.

On Wednesday, the 6-foot-9, 280-lb. center ended his recruitment by committing to Maryland. Aaron Harrison Sr., Cleare’s AAU coach with the Houston Defenders, confirmed the news to CBSSports.com.

Long thought to be a Maryland lean, Cleare chose the Terrapins over Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Florida, Arizona and others. The pick-up is huge for new head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff.

“A place where I fit in,” Cleare told me in June when asked about the biggest factors in his decision. “A coach that is there all the time.”

Cleare, ranked No. 25 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100, is a space-eater down low that carves out areas on the block and goes to work. He has very good strength and solid footwork, which he uses in a variety of post moves. Cleare moves well without the ball and gets great position for entry passes. Once he improves his stamina and conditioning, his ceiling will rise tremendously.

Cleare, a Village School (Tex.) product, is the second commitment in Turgeon’s 2012 class, joining guard Seth Allen.

Photo: ESPN Rise

Posted on: August 24, 2011 9:22 am

Gary Williams will still work for the Terps

By Matt Norlander

Gary Williams isn't leaving Maryland just yet.

The Hall of Fame coach retired from the school -- surprisingly -- in early May, but he'll remain on board with the program in an advisory role, according to Terrapins Insider. And this part-time position pays prettay, prettay ... prettay well. How's 400 grand a year for five years sound? After all Williams did to put Maryland basketball back on the map and in the national conversation, he earned it. 

Williams, who will have the court named after him this upcoming season, will be an assistant to the athletic director, Ken Anderson. It's an ironic situation, given the fact Williams often clashed with his former AD, Debbie Yow, who is now in that position at North Carolina State. Williams' new gig wasn't always in the cards. Per Terrapins Insider, this arrangement was sparked once Williams was firm in his decision to leave coaching with a 461-452 lifetime record.

Under terms of his five-year employment contract, released in response to an open-records request, Williams will help Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson with fundraising and represent the university in speaking engagements “from time to time as reasonably requested” by Anderson, the document states.

According to his new employment agreement, Williams officially retired as coach July 1, the same day his job as special assistant to Anderson began. The contract runs through June 30, 2016. If Williams chooses to resign the post before then, he will be paid $200,000 annually until the contact expires on June 30, 2016.

Such sweet terms! Williams can bail and still rake in serious coin. It's clear the heart can't ever leave on first attempt, and so Williams' attachment to his alma mater makes sense. He'll be as good as anyone in the sports realm when it comes to fundraising. The school needs him right now; there's been a ot of overhaul in the athletic offices in 2011, considering the football and basketball programs have hired new coaches, the university brought in a new president and a new AD.

My lingering concern: the Maryland uniforms. If Williams has any pull, their won't be an adjustment made to the basketball team's threads. We've already seen the monstrosity that's overtaken Terps football.

Photo: AP
Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:55 am

Villanova captain Isaiah Armwood transferring

By Jeff Goodman

Jay Wright doesn’t want Isaiah Armwood to leave.

But the Villanova coach wants what’s best for the Wildcats captain – and that’s an opportunity to play a major role in another program.

Therefore, the 6-foot-8 junior has decided to transfer elsewhere.

``He’s the greatest kid in the world,” Wright gushed. ``He’s our hardest-working guy, our captain. We started him every game on our trip. I love him to death.”

``I just want to see him achieve his goals,” he added.

Wright sat down with Armwood at the end of the trip to France and the Netherlands and the two, days later, came to an agreement that it would be best for Armwood to go elsewhere.

With the addition of frontline guys JayVaughn Pinkston and Marcus Kennedy – along with starting center Mouph Yarou back – minutes would likely be precious for Armwood.

The Maryland native started seven games last season, averaging 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds.

If he leaves prior to the start of school, he’ll sit out this season and have two years of eligibility remaining.

Sources told CBSSports.com that schools in the mix for Armwood are Maryland, Iowa, Texas Tech and George Washington. Armwood grew up near Maryland and GW and both Iowa and Texas Tech have former Villanova assistant coaches – Andrew Francis (Iowa) and Chris Walker (Texas Tech). 

Posted on: August 3, 2011 4:10 pm

Turgeon loses another at Maryland

By Matt Norlander

Right about now, I think, Mark Turgeon's somewhere in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee -- wherever. In Las Vegas he told me at the start of August he would be making the three-day road trip, with his family and pets in tow, for the move from one College town to another: College Station, Texas, to College Park, Md. He wanted the full experience of moving like that. Being from the Midwest, and working their all of his professional life, he'd never had a cross-country drive to experience before.

Can we all picture, right now, Mark Turgeon screaming at his kids in the back seat to keep quiet -- because they just stopped to go to the bathroom 15 minutes ago? Yes, we can. And let's carry that vision in our heads for the remainder of this Wednesday.

Where was I? Oh, right, Maryland and Turgeon losing a player. Sorry, when a role player leaves a team, you tend to feel a need to beef up the posts with anecdotal fluff. So, anyway, Turgeon's down to eight scholarships since little-used forward Haukur "Hawk" Palsson, who was a to-be sophomore, decided to turn pro. Seriously! Palsson, who is from Iceland, averaged 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in his freshman campaign.

When you've got nine scholarship guys, losing another one, no matter how little he contributed, hurts. Less than 40 percent of the Terps' offense from last season will be back in uniform for 2011-12.

Said Turegon in a statement: “Hawk informed us today that he intends on pursuing a professional basketball career in Europe. He wants to be closer to home and to be able to start providing for his family. We appreciate Hawk’s contributions to Maryland basketball and we will always wish him the best in his professional basketball career.”

Maryland's going to go small next season, often employing a four-guard look. That'll be fun and extremely experimental. Should be interesting to see how that plays in the ACC, which will also be relatively weak, I think. If there's ever a year to rebuild and take on just eight schollies, it's next season in the ACC. Just accept that Carolina will roll, Duke will be elite and everyone else gets tossed around in the vat.

Photo: AP
Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 10:47 am

ACC Offseason Report

By Jeff Goodman

ACC Offseason Report

Boston College – Joe Jones left to become the head coach at Boston University and Steve Donahue has decided to promote Woody Kampmann and hire Izzi Metz as his new director of basketball operations. The Eagles will play in the 76 Classic in Anaheim and have non-league games against Providence (12-8) at home, UMass (11-21) and Penn State (11-30). Dallas Elmore transferred out of the program while Oregon transfer Matt Humphrey is eligible this season.

Clemson – The Tigers are in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii (12-22/25) and also have non-league games at Iowa (11-29), at Arizona (12-10) and against South Carolina (12-4). Donte Hill (Old Dominion), Noel Johnson (Auburn) and Cory Stanton (Lipscomb) all transferred out of the program.

Duke – The Blue Devils will go to China and Dubai from Aug. 14-26. Mike Krzyzewski brought back former player Jeff Capel, who was fired as head coach at Oklahoma in the offseason. He moves into the spot of Nate James, who was reassigned. The Blue Devils will play in the Maui Invitational and also have a loaded non-conference slate: vs. Michigan State in the Champions Classic in NYC (11-15), at Ohio State (11-29), vs. Washington in NYC (12-10), at Temple in Philadelphia (1-4), vs. St. John’s (1-28).

Florida State – Andy Enfield got the head job at Florida Gulf Coast and was replaced by Dennis Gates (Nevada). The Seminoles will play in the Battle of Atlantis in the Bahamas on Nov. 23-27 and also go to Florida (12-22) and play at Michigan State (11-30). Jeff Peterson transferred in from Arkansas and will be eligible this season as a graduate student.

Georgia Tech – New coach Brian Gregory brought Billy Schmidt from Dayton, hired Josh Postorino, Chad Dollar and Amir Abdur-Rahim as the director of operations. The Yellow Jackets will play in the Charleston Classic (11-17/20) and will have non-league games against Northwestern (11-29), at Georgia (12-7) and vs. Alabama (1-3). Brian Oliver transferred to Seton Hall and Brandon Reed is eligible this season after transferring from Arkansas State.

Maryland – Mark Turgeon brought Scott Spinelli and Dustin Clark (director of basketball operations) with him from Texas A&M, hired Dalonte Hill (Kansas State) and kept Orlando “Bino” Ranson. The Terps will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and also have non-league games vs. Illinois (11-29), against Notre Dame (12-4) in D.C. and against Temple at the Palestra (1-21). Haukur Palsson left the program to play pro ball back home.

Miami – Jim Larranaga brought his staff with him from George Mason: Chris Caputo, Eric Konkol, Michael Huger and he kept Mike Summey as the director of basketball operations. The Hurricanes will play at Purdue (11-29), vs. Rutgers (11-15), at Ole Miss (11-25), vs. Memphis (12-6) and at West Virginia (12-11). Trey McKinney-Jones (UMKC) and Kenneth Kadji (Florida) are both eligible this season after sitting last year.

N.C. State – Mark Gottfried put together the ex-Charlotte staff of Bobby Lutz, Orlando Early and Rob Moxley. He also hired Jeff Dunlap as his director of basketball operations. The Wolfpack will play in the Legends Classic and also will face Indiana (11-30) and Syracuse (12-17) at home, and will play at Stanford (12-4). Ryan Harrow (Kentucky) transferred out while N.C. State added one-year Cal State Bakersfield point guard Alex Johnson, who is eligible this season.

North Carolina – The Tar Heels will play Michigan State on Nov. 11 in San Diego on an aircraft carrier and will also play in the Las Vegas Invitational. Roy Williams’ team also plays Wisconsin at home (11-30) and at Kentucky (12-3) in the non-conference slate. Larry Drew transferred to UCLA.

Virginia – The Cavaliers will play in the Paradise Jam and also have non-league games vs. Michigan (11-29), vs. George Mason (12-6), at Oregon (12-18) and at LSU (1-2 or 1-3). Will Regan (Buffalo) transferred out of the program.

Virginia Tech – Adrian Autry (Syracuse) left and Dennis Wolff left the director of operations spot to become the head women’s coach at Virginia Tech. Robert Ehsan (Maryland) replaced Autry and Jeff Wulbrun takes Wolff’s spot. The Hokies will play in the Preseason NIT and also have non-league contests at Minnesota (11-30), vs. Kansas State (12-3 or 12-4), at Oklahoma State (12-31) and vs. BYU (1-25). Manny Atkins transferred out to Georgia State.

Wake Forest – Walt Corbean has been moved up from director of operations, replacing Mark Pope, who left for BYU. Jeff Nix, a former NBA assistant, takes Corbean’s old spot. The Demon Deacons will play in the Old Spice in Orlando and also have non-conference games at Nebraska (11-30), at Seton Hall (12-10) and vs. Richmond (12-3). Ari Stewart (USC) transferred out of the program and Melvin Tabb was suspended and is leaving as well. 

Offseason reports: Big 12 Pac-12 | Big Ten
Posted on: July 18, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 2:56 pm

Maryland assistant making 300k per year

By Matt Norlander

You want to know who works hardest in the college basketball world? It's assistant coaches. The young men put in years, decades into their lives in hopes of one day earning that coveted head-coaching job. There are dues to be paid, and then there is earning keep as an assistant, where personal relationships are sometimes tossed to the side if a guy can't recruit successfully.

Due to being at the Peach Jam, I'm a couple days late to this, but it's still relevant. The Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland all-star assistant coach Dalonte Hill (pictured at far left in 2010, while with Kansas State) is set to earn $300,000 per year. That's simply humongous money for an assistant to make in college basketball. Yet Hill's taking a dip in salary? Apparently.

Hill is a well-known recruiter hired by [Mark] Turgeon from Kansas State in May. Hill was known at Kansas State for being among the best-paid assistants in the country. In September 2010, the Kansas City Star reported that Hill's annual salary with the Wildcats had been increased to $423,750.

Maryland fans had been wondering in recent months how much Hill got to come to College Park.

Maryland has been seeking to upgrade the men's basketball assistants' pay. In December 2009, a survey in The Washington Times concluded that, under former athletic director Deborah Yow, former head coach Gary Williams' assistant coaches were collectively the lowest-paid among the ACC's eight public schools.

Now Maryland, and Turgeon, are serious -- very serious -- about getting the best players in the ripe-as-hell greater D.C. area to come to College Park. Hill is from D.C., and he coached an AAU team in the area last decade. Maryland also has Bino Ranson and Scott Spinelli on staff now, two guys who are already getting after it very aggressively, from what I heard at the Peach Jam.

About five years ago college football really, fully got into this kind of money -- and more; a few assistants are millionaires -- but college hoops is just now entering the realm where there's a clique of high-ranking assistants that can demand this kind of money. Hill's still among the richest second-in-commands, but you can expect the number of betas earning big bucks in college basketball to boost in the coming years.

You can thank agents and coaches with deep ties for this kind of money, too. When coaches take to a new BCS job, there are many stipulations in the contract, of course, and now one of them increasing in popularity is having assistants on staff get paid, and get paid well. College sports is as much about clout as it is about winning. Programs that want to do well want people to know they're willing to hunt in the couch cushions and hand out a basket to pass around in order to get not only the best coach possible, but the best couple of colonels to flank the new general.

Hill is rightfully considered one of the best recruiters in the game. He has many a connection, and helped build K-State into what it is today. Now it's time to boost Mark Turgeon's reputation like he did with Frank Martin's. If Maryland's at the top of the ACC again by 2013, like it was from 2001 to 2004, then Hill will have been worth the paycheck. Maybe even a bargain, if things go really well.

He's that connected.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 19, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: June 19, 2011 12:12 pm

For many, memories of Bias come by way of fathers

By Matt Norlander

I never saw Len Bias play. Well, maybe I did, but if that happened, it was inadvertent and I have no memory of it.

Today's the 25th anniversary of the Maryland star's death, and in the interest of intellectual honesty, I can't speak to Bias' talent and potential and the landscape of the game, because I was 5 when he died. I was cheated out of watching No. 34 of the Terrapins electrify the college game on a level plenty said had never been reached prior. In an age when college basketball wasn't prevalent on TV (at least, nowhere near to the point it is today), Bias became a quickly ascending star (this is what the books and already-grayed commentators tell me), a symbol for the elite college basketball player of the future. 

He was taken from his family, the game, the planet at a time when his potential likely could moved him toward matching Michael Jordan's stardom, almost stride for stride. They say he was that good. Could've altered NBA history, what with being drafted by the Celtics, who were coming off one of the most impressive single-season performances in NBA history when they drafted Bias in 1986 with the No. 2 pick.

I bring up Jordan not only because some believe Bias was truly the closest thing to 23, but because that's who and what I associate Bias with. Jordan and my father, really. I loved Jordan, and my dad was the one who first told me about Bias, compared the two players. From there on out, my visions of Bias were linked to the greatest of all-time.

The memories become clearer around 1990, when I couldn't explain why, but despite the fact that the Bears were still a viable NFL franchise, I began to favor the Bulls more. (These days, that devotion has heavily switched back to the navy and orange. You don't want to see me on Sundays in the fall. It's not prideful, it's embarrassing fanboi-ism.) My parents grew up in Chicago. They're responsible for the brainwashing, as they should be. But I remember really becoming like so many other 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds around the world. I was captivated by Jordan. His game, how he was marketed, it all influenced me tremendously.

A few weeks after I learned how Hank Gathers died, I remember my dad telling me about Bias. Funny how some of the smaller things stay in an easily accessible part of our brain, even two decades later. My dad told me how this player out of Maryland played for "a guy named Lefty" and was nearly as good as M.J. This excited me. I was getting into NBA basketball, beginning to collect cards and generally soaking up any and all hoop-related activity or propaganda I could shoot my eyes at.

So, upon hearing about Bias, I was eager to see more ... then I learned the truth. He was gone already. I didn't know how he died. I can't remember when I found out about his drug use, but it wasn't that day or any day soon thereafter. My dad did good shielding me from the really ugly stuff early on. Between the Gathers and Bias deaths, and discovering these things relatively close to each other, I was jolted into a reality pretty quickly. Stars were susceptible. That's a scary thing for a kid with too many heroes in the sporting world and innocent aspirations to one day get there.

About five years later, growing up in suburban Vermont, I entered into high school in the mid-'90s and developed a circle of friends who cared as much about basketball as I did. It was then that I realized how strong Bias' legacy was, and how for all of us, he was the basketball star we never had. For babies of the '80s, Bias was the mythical figure, the player our generation missed out on. The greatest hoops player we never saw. The phenom most of us heard about by way of stories from our dads.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Maryland
Posted on: June 13, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 1:30 pm

Ricardo Ledo aims for consistency


By Jeff Borzello

BRONX, N.Y. -- When Ricardo Ledo is on top of his game, there's not a better scorer in the country.

However, it's his inconsistency that has prevented him from breaking into the top-five players in 2012. That was clearly on display this weekend at the Rumble in the Bronx, when Ledo lit up the scoreboard on Friday night – only to turn around and struggle immensely Saturday morning. He was scoreless for most of the early game, with his only points coming on a few late 3-pointers.

"I played a lot better yesterday," Ledo said. "I took too many 3s today."

Despite his up-and-down play at times, Ledo still ranks near the top of his class. With his combination of size and skill, he's essentially unguardable.

Ledo is confident about his standing nationally.

"I think I'm the best guard in the country," he said. "I can do so many things."

At 6-foot-6, the Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) product has the ability to see over most opposing guards. He can handle the ball well, has a very good mid-range game and can also shoot from deep. Ledo can post up smaller guards and demonstrates great body control when knocking in tough shots. He has a great first step and uses his length to finish effectively at the rim.

Ledo, who plays on the AAU circuit with Expressions Elite and the Albany City Rocks, admits he has things to work on.

"My all-around game needs to get better," he said, pointing to defense as his major weakness.

As for recruiting, the former Providence commit is taking his time wading through the myriad colleges currently courting him.

Kentucky, Syracuse, Providence and Connecticut are the four currently standing out for Ledo, but Texas, Florida, Arizona and Maryland are also heavily involved.

"I want to go somewhere I can win," he said. "Playing time is also important."

If Ledo develops consistency, though, he will likely find getting playing time won't be much of a problem. 

Photo: Rush the Court 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com