Haukur Palsson, who would have been a sophomore next season, will leave College Park to play overseas. Liz Clarke wrote for the dead-tree edition:
The challenge facing Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon in his first season grew more difficult Monday with news that rising sophomore Haukur Palsson, a versatile swingman with a deft shooting touch, plans to leave College Park to play professionally overseas.
A native of Reykjavik, Iceland, the 6-foot-6 Palsson played in 32 games for the Terrapins last season, starting three. He averaged 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, but his contributions on defense and as a psychological spark coming off the bench weren’t reflected in the stat sheets.
Palsson’s departure follows on the heels of the loss of sophomore center Jordan Williams, the Terps’ leading scorer and rebounder, who declared for the NBA draft with two years of eligibility and a good bit of development remaining. Williams was selected in the second round.
Turgeon confirmed Palsson’s departure in a statement issued by university officials Monday night, saying: “Hawk informed us today that he intends on pursuing a professional basketball career in Europe. He wants to be closer to home and to be able to start providing for his family. We appreciate Hawk’s contributions to Maryland basketball and we will always wish him the best in his professional basketball career.”
That leaves Maryland with a roster laden with guards, precariously short on big men and with four scholarships to spare.
To put it a different way, that leaves Maryland with only eight scholarship players for next season: seniors Sean Mosley and Berend Weijs; junior James Padgett; sophomores Mychal Parker, Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard; redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey; and true freshman Nick Faust.
Those eight scholarship players accounted for only 39.5 percent of the total minutes played and 38.7 percent of the points scored by the Terrapins last season; only Mosley (24.6 minutes per game), Stoglin (21.5) and Howard (18.5) averaged double-digit playing time. Padgett, Parker and Weijs averaged 20.1 minutes per game combined, and Pankey played in only one game (for three minutes) before missing the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his left leg, earning a redshirt. (Walk-on Ersin Levent, a 6-7 junior forward last season, also played in eight games.)
Palsson averaged 10.1 minutes per game, earning starts in the Terrapins’ final two games and playing 24 minutes in the season finale against Duke in the ACC tournament.
ESPN’s Andy Katz reported last week that Turgeon will consistently play four guards next season because of the team’s deficiencies down low, and that won’t change because of Palsson’s decision. Mosley, Stoglin and Howard probably won’t leave the court much, and if Faust is as good as advertised, it’ll be tough to keep him off the court.
In any case, Turgeon faces a rather tough challenge. How do you think Turgeon should handle the rotation for this coming year? Leave your thoughts in the comments.