Freshman guard Wally Lancaster, who played in only seven of the University of Maryland's 19 basketball games this season, has quit the team and plans to transfer to another school in the fall.
Coach Lefty Driesell said yesterday that Lancaster called him Tuesday night and said he was leaving the team, although he planned to remain in school for the spring semester, which began yesterday.
"He just wants to go somewhere he can play and he wasn't playing here," Driesell said. "Tuesday, before practice, he told me he wanted to stay on the team. Then he called me and said he was leaving."
This is the second time Lancaster has left the team. The first time was on Dec. 13. Then, as now, according to sources at Maryland, Lancaster's father Walter Sr. urged him to leave. The first time he left, Lancaster returned 24 hours later. This time, though, he is not expected back.
Lancaster, who is 6 feet 4, was an all-Met selection at Coolidge High School in the District last year and came to Maryland expecting to see time as a backup wing guard. But when Driesell decided early in the season that Adrian Branch would play guard instead of forward, Lancaster's playing time went from very little to none at all.
"It's his lack of playing time," Walter Lancaster Sr. said last night. "We thought when Wally signed, even though Maryland had plenty of players at his position, that he was going to get some time. But he didn't and we had to make a decision. He wasn't at all happy and he wasn't progressing.
"It's frustrating to see fellas you were as good as or better than, contributing in other programs and you don't even take your sweatshirt off. It has to be very rare to see a player with Wally's credentials only get 25 minutes of playing time in 19 games. What future do you have in that kind of situation?"
Lancaster said he and his son had no negative feelings toward Maryland or Driesell. He said he had no idea where his son would transfer.
The younger Lancaster played in seven games and scored a total of 10 points before spraining his ankle in practice two weeks ago. Although back in uniform for Monday's game against Holy Cross, he did not play in that 99-75 Maryland romp. Twenty-four hours later, he told Driesell he was leaving the team.
"I'm sorry he wants to do this, but he wants to go somewhere he's going to be guaranteed a chance to play and I can't guarantee him that he will play," Driesell said.
As recently as last week, Branch said that he thought Lancaster would stay at Maryland. "He's been through the worst of it," Branch said. " . . . He just has to slow down a little."
"This is one of the problems with letting freshmen play," Driesell said. "Because some of them play, they all think they should. If they all had a year to get used to college, play JV ball and wait their turn, I don't think things like this would happen."