Following several days of rumors, Maryland men’s basketball guard Seth Allen was granted permission to transfer Friday afternoon. Coach Mark Turgeon’s first recruit in College Park exits the program after two productive seasons and is the latest offseason departure from a program trying to end a drought of four straight seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance.
In joining Nick Faust (who transferred to Oregon State), Shaquille Cleare (Texas) and Roddy Peters (undecided), Allen becomes the fourth player to bolt after a disappointing 17-15 season, when a buzzer-beating dunk bounced the Terrapins from their final ACC tournament and kept them out of the postseason altogether. Yet while the departures of Faust, Cleare and Peters were all expected and announced en masse last month, Allen’s was more surprising.
“I liked Seth,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “I liked coaching Seth. I’m going to miss Seth. He’s a heck of a player. I’m sad he’s gone. I’m going to miss him and his family. I really liked his family. You’re disappointed. But I’m also excited about the guys I have returning and the guys I have coming in.”
During his sophomore year, the 6-foot-1-inch guard blossomed into one of Maryland’s most dangerous scoring threats. He overcame a fractured left foot suffered during the preseason to average 13.4 points, including a career-high 32 against Florida State. Before and after the injury, Turgeon repeatedly gushed about how Allen was playing at “a very high level,” and when Allen returned to the court Dec. 29 against Tulsa, the fans welcomed him with a standing ovation.
Allen appeared poised to build on his success last season, with the pending arrival of standout point guard Melo Trimble allowing him to return to his natural position of shooting guard. Instead, the rising junior, who did not return text messages and telephone calls seeking comment, will sit out a season per NCAA regulations and finish his college career elsewhere, with no concrete destinations immediately known.
Trimble will carry a particularly hefty burden in Allen’s wake. He will be counted on to slide into the starting point guard spot when he reports to campus June 2 alongside a five-man recruiting class ranked ninth nationally by ESPN. A local star at O’Connell High and Maryland’s first McDonald’s all-American recruit since 2003, Trimble recently was warned about Allen’s departure by Turgeon.
“He said next year it’s going to be tough,” Trimble said Friday. “I almost have to play the whole game, see a lot of minutes, stuff like that. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to come in and work hard and have him push me. I wanted to get to College Park and earn my minutes.”
With three open scholarship spots, the Terps are expected to search for a transfer to aid Trimble’s transition, given that Dez Wells and Jake Layman will be the team’s only returning scholarship guards. And with a quartet of transfers, coupled with the team’s recent struggles, the Terps will approach a crossroads this coming season.
“Four is a high number,” Turgeon said. “There’s no doubt. People are going to view the program the way they want to view the program. I know how I’m viewing the program. I think we have a good group coming back that believes in Maryland basketball and a good group coming in, and I’m excited about the future.”
As one of two rising seniors on scholarship alongside Wells, forward Evan Smotrycz tweeted his support of Turgeon and the program shortly after Allen’s move was made official.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the direction our program is going,” Smotrycz wrote. “We have a great group of guys who want to work and do something special here at Maryland. We are all behind Coach Turgeon. We are working hard to make sure Maryland is at the top of the Big Ten next year. Thanks to all the fans for sticking with us — we are most definitely on the right track!”