Pankey is the third Maryland player to depart the team in recent weeks. Mychal Parker announced his intention to transfer in April, and then he and guard Terrell Stoglin were suspended for the upcoming season late last month for violating the university’s student-athlete code of conduct. Stoglin then announced his intention to play professionally.
Pankey, who hails from the Bronx, cited family reasons as the reason for his departure.
“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 statement released by the school. “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.”
Pankey, who was sidelined for almost all of his true freshman season in 2010-11 with a stress fracture in his leg, averaged 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game last season. With Alex Len and James Padgett returning next season and a number of heralded big-man prospects joining the team, the Terrapins figure to have a crowded front court.
“Ashton was raised in a close-knit home; he and his mother are very close,” Coach Mark Turgeon said in the statement. “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’s departure leaves just Pe’Shon Howard, James Padgett and Nick Faust as the only remaining Maryland players who were recruited by former coach Gary Williams. Howard (coming off a season-ending ACL injury), Padgett, Faust and center Alex Len will be the only Maryland players with any significant college basketball experience on next season’s team.