Sterling Ledbetter, expected to be an important piece in Maryland's basketball recruiting class, was involved in a serious car accident Monday and remained in a Hagerstown, Md., hospital last night.

Ledbetter, who played at Laurel High before playing two years at Allegany College in Cumberland, Md., was returning from his home town to school Monday morning when, according to Allegany Coach Bob Kirk, he fell asleep at the wheel on Interstate 70 west of Myersville. He had to be cut from his car and was taken by helicopter to Washington County Hospital and was checked into an intensive care unit at 12:43 p.m., a hospital official said.

According to Maryland Coach Gary Williams, Ledbetter suffered a dislocated hip that doctors were able to place back in the joint.

"It was pretty serious," Williams said, adding that he wasn't certain if Ledbetter would be ready for the season.

"He was very fortunate," Kirk said. "The car was demolished. But he's going to be fine."

Kirk, who visited his former player at the hospital, said Ledbetter didn't suffer any other broken bones or internal injuries. Ledbetter was scheduled to have oral surgery yesterday afternoon. Hospital officials said last night they had no update on Ledbetter's condition.

Maryland State Police officers said they are still investigating the accident, and a report will not be available until the end of the week at the earliest.

"It's pretty unbelievable," Williams said. "It's a thing that, as a college coach, is always in the back of your mind. You're always worried about a player in a situation like this. It's your worst nightmare.

"I hope he can be ready. But he's one of us. We'll go with whatever the doctors tell us."

Ledbetter, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard, averaged 13.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists last season at Allegany. He was expected to enter the Terrapins' rotation immediately, particularly backing up point guard John Gilchrist. He joins forward James Gist of Good Counsel as the only members of the Terrapins' recruiting class.

"He was in pretty good spirits," Kirk said. "He's pretty tough. He said he was hurting, but I'm sure he knows he's lucky to be here."