At the same time its most effective rebounder announced his intention to transfer, the Maryland men’s basketball team welcomed two key pieces for the upcoming season. Richaud Pack, a fifth-year transfer from North Carolina A&T, pledged to the Terrapins and will be eligible immediately, while international center Michal Cekovsky, who committed to the program in April, finally signed and faxed over his paperwork.
In adding Pack, Maryland adds some much-needed depth to its back court, which lost point guards Seth Allen and Roddy Peters, as well as wing Nick Faust, this offseason. Though Coach Mark Turgeon said Pack, a high-IQ scorer who plans to enroll in the business school for his MBA, will primarily play shooting guard and small forward in College Park, he brings another measure of veteran leadership to a Terps team that has been starved in that department in recent years. He visited the Terps two weekends ago and was deciding between them and Texas Christian.
“The mind-set that I got from visiting was, from the guys who are returning was, ‘We’re here, we’re going to win here, we’re confident in coach, we’re confident in the school,”’ Pack said Thursday by telephone. “That rubbed off on me. Then I did my own research about why a lot of people were leaving. I did my own research. From what I gathered, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, Coach is a bad coach, forget him’-type stuff. It had other influences and what people wanted other than that. It’s not always the coach. A lot of times it’s what players want. Sometimes situations change for different players.”
Pack would know better than most. The recent graduate spent two seasons at Florida International before trasnferring to North Carolina A&T, where he averaged 17.0 points per game last season, including a season-high 30 vs. NJIT on Jan. 18. According to Pack, his search for a final, one-year home came down to, in order, “academics, then winning, then playing time, then location.”
“We’re excited to welcome Richaud to the University of Maryland,” Turgeon said in a news release. “He comes from a great family and I really enjoyed getting to know Richaud and his mother, Kaija, during this process. Richaud is a great shooter and scorer and will fit in well with our team and system. He will have an opportunity to further his education in business administration, a field he is very passionate about.”
Cekovsky, a native of Slovakia, comes to Maryland from Canarias Academy in Spain, where he quickly rose into the American spotlight and earned a four-star rating from most national ranking sites. The 7-footer committed to the Terps on April 7, becoming the fifth member of Turgeon’s top-10 class of 2015, but it took several weeks for his paperwork to be signed, sent and processed.
“We’re excited to welcome Michal to the University of Maryland,” Turgeon said. “He has a special skill set for someone of his size and ability. Michal has great speed, athleticism and agility. He’s a versatile player who can play either the four of five positions for us. The combination of both his perimeter play and strong interior game will add a new dimension to our frontcourt.”
Recruited by assistant Dustin Clark, who also handled Pack’s recruitment, Cekovsky will arrive to a thin frontcourt situation, with a clear prospect for immediate playing time. After the Terps lost forward Charles Mitchell, who returns to his native Atlanta to tend to his sick grandmother, Maryland is left with only four interior big men: two freshmen in Cekovsky and Trayvon Reed, and two fringe rotational players from 2013-14 in Damonte Dodd and Jonathan Graham.
“I’m excited to be coming to the University of Maryland,” Cekovsky said. “I’ve followed Maryland and have enjoyed getting to know Coach Turgeon and Coach Clark. I first took notice of Maryland when Alex Len played there and I watched how he developed into an NBA player. The opportunity for early playing time was something that excited me and I’m looking forward to being a part of a great program and university.
With 11 scholarships now filled — Pack, Evan Smotrycz, Dez Wells, Graham, Jake Layman, Dodd, Cekovsky, Reed, Jared Nickens, Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley — including four seniors, the Terps are still hunting for transfers, both those immediately eligible and those who would have to sit out a season. They have been linked to several high-profile targets like Terry Henderson (West Virginia), Robert Carter Jr. (Georgia Tech) and Andrew White III (Kansas).