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Terrapins hope reserved Mosley will break out of his shell

By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 13, 2009

During a recent interview, Maryland sophomore guard Sean Mosley relived his decision to choose the Terrapins over Syracuse, his other top college option.

"Syracuse really didn't fit me," Mosley said. "It's kind of cold up in that area, and the school is kind of old."

Kind of old? "The structures of the buildings and everything is kind of old," he explained. "The only thing that's really there is the basketball itself."

This was just the way Rick Mosley said it would play out: His son would be reserved in his speech, but every once in a while, the father said the youngest of his four children subtly will let slip notions that catch your attention.

Those who know Sean Mosley well describe him as perceptive beyond his years and believe that trait will contribute significantly to his on-court improvement during a sophomore season that begins Friday night when the Terrapins host Charleston Southern at Comcast Center.

This season, expectations are heightened for a Terrapins squad that returns four starters from a team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. But to return to the postseason, Maryland will need Mosley to reveal himself on both sides of the court, even though doing so doesn't come naturally to him off it.

One night when Mosley was 16, he sat down for a chat with his father in their Baltimore home. Mosley's AAU team, then called Team Melo, was leaving in a few days for a tournament in North Carolina. It was a nondescript conversation, father-son stuff. And then Mosley mentioned that the team might make a stop at Virginia Tech on the way.

"Sean is the kind of kid that he will never tell you" what's going on, Rick Mosley said. "But what he'll do is when you sit around and talk and he'll say something and it makes your ears go up like, 'Okay, I need to start checking into something.' He wants me to know, but he's not going to tell me outright. So you start putting yourself in a position where you're hearing more and you start listening to what other parents are saying about particular people."

Rick Mosley, a former investigator in the Baltimore criminal courts who previously had served four years in the Army, began speaking with parents of other players on the team, probing for information. He discovered that some parents didn't feel comfortable having their sons ride with the team because they felt some of Team Melo's coaches were trying to "shop them" to certain college programs.

Before Sean left on the trip, the elder Mosley repeated the message that had bonded the two since Sean was in seventh grade, the first time someone with ulterior motives attempted to latch on to Sean's basketball talents. If anybody tries to talk to you, you tell them to call your father.

This was how Sean Mosley spent his formative years in a home town desperate for a promising star to which to cling: Being approached after games by men he'd never met who wanted to tell him how special a talent he was, being lorded over by an AAU program that repeatedly tried to supersede his family in his recruiting process, being pressured from all sides.

Mosley described his college recruitment as "a headache every day," but he continued to revert to a trusted formula -- absorb, analyze and move forward. He said he eventually chose Maryland because it gave him the best chance to play right away.

"I listen and take things into consideration no matter what people say, but I know the negative and positive things, what should I really listen to and what should I don't," Sean Mosley said. "You know, I learned that growing up early, and I think a lot of kids basically don't get that same advice that I had growing up. Some people just listen to all the negative things, and that's how people fall down sooner than" they should.

Mosley left Saint Frances as the second-leading scorer in Maryland high school basketball history, yet he shot 37 percent from the field and averaged 5.3 points per game during his freshman campaign at Maryland.

Still, Mosley's defensive prowess earned him playing time, and he was a fixture in the starting lineup by season's end.

The primary struggle for Mosley last season was finding proper spots on the floor to take his shots in the flow of Maryland's flex offense system. Over the summer, Mosley said he worked on forming a quicker, more consistent release on his shot and traveled overseas in August to play seven exhibition games against European club teams. The aspect of the trip that stood out to him most? The European architecture, of course.

Mosley has watched game tape from last year and listened as his coaches -- past and present -- instructed him on how to improve his shot. He said he's more comfortable with the team's offensive sets and more aware of how to be assertive within them. He said he's ready to contribute more on both ends of the court, which is exactly what Coach Gary Williams wanted to hear.

"We play a basic way, and Sean sees more ways to score right now than he did last year," Williams said. "And so, his shots are there, and he's taking his shots. He worked hard on his shooting in the offseason, so his shots are there and he should take them. And he's seeing them."

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