After weeks of rumors swirling around his alleged discontent with the Maryland men’s basketball team, forward Charles Mitchell has decided to transfer for an entirely different reason.
“Recently, Charles shared with us that his grandmother had become ill,” Coach Mark Turgeon said in a news release sent Thursday afternoon. “I feel terrible for Charles and his family. Although we will miss Charles, we understand and support his decision to move closer to his home so he can help support and be there for his family. I appreciate Charles’ commitment to our program and he will always be a part of our family.”
The news of Mitchell’s departure coincides with two key additions for the Terrapins, who welcomed graduate student transfer Richaud Pack from North Carolina A&T and officially signed highly touted international big man Michal Cekovsky. Losing Mitchell, however, leaves Turgeon with only one scholarship player remaining from his first Maryland recruiting class — Jake Layman — after Seth Allen (Virginia Tech) and Shaq Cleare (Texas) also moved elsewhere this offseason. Mitchell plans to transfer closer to his native Atlanta alongside his sister, Alaysia, who plays for Towson, according to a source. An individual with knowledge of the situation said Turgeon plans to help Mitchell become eligible immediately, similar to how point guard Pe’Shon Howard transferred to Southern California to take care of his sick grandmother.
In two seasons at Maryland, Mitchell grew into an effective rebounder, averaging 6.0 points and 5.8 boards in 70 career games, including 17 starts, for the Terps. During the 2013-14 season, he ranked 12th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, according to analyst Ken Pomeroy, but at times struggled with his conditioning and was sent into the locker room by Turgeon against Virginia Tech for a mid-game outburst. Mitchell, however, quickly reconciled with Turgeon and started the next game.
As the offseason exodus took shape, resulting in the transfers of Allen, Cleare, Roddy Peters (South Florida) and Nick Faust (undecided), rumors also linked Mitchell as a potential departure. However, he recently told a WUSA-9 reporter that he planned to stay in College Park, something the Terps staff expected as well until news of his grandmother’s health grew grave.
“I want to especially thank Coach Turgeon for his support and compassion during my family’s time of need,” Mitchell said in a release. “I loved playing for Coach. He is a great man and great coach. The reason I decided to leave Maryland is to be near my grandmother who has been ill over the past year. Knowing that she raised me and is still a very big part of my life, I decided to move closer to home. It’s important for me to be there for my grandmother and to help support my family. I didn’t want to leave, but I have to put my family first. I really enjoyed playing with my teammates and I’ve had a lot of great memories over the last two seasons. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had and wish Maryland nothing but success in the future.”
This leaves Maryland with only four projected interior big men on scholarship next season: Jonathan Graham, Damonte Dodd, Cekovsky and Travyon Reed. Two of those are freshmen, and both Graham and Dodd were fringe rotational players last season.