Chol Marial, a 7-foot-2 center, has signed on to join Maryland’s basketball team for the 2019-20 season, he and the school announced Monday.
Marial, who has a 7-foot-11 wingspan, attends Compass Prep in Chandler, Ariz. He played in fewer than 10 games at the school this season, according to his coach, Pete Kaffey, but he averaged about 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. In middle school, Marial moved to the United States from South Sudan.
“I want to thank Coach [Mark] Turgeon for giving me this opportunity,” Marial said in a statement. “Coach Turgeon and I have gotten along really well, and I really enjoyed spending time with the rest of the coaching staff and players. Bruno Fernando and I have similar backgrounds, and I saw how much he improved as a player at Maryland. I’m looking forward to getting better every day and playing for Terp Nation.”
Marial was once considered a top-five recruit in his class but was reduced to a three-star prospect after his playing time was limited by shin splints.
“He's a pro,” Kaffey said. “At the end of the day, I get it. If they don't see you, they're not going to rank you.”
Marial is a high-upside prospect who Kaffey thinks could be an NBA all-star if he stays healthy. The lingering injury, though, is a significant question. Kaffey said Marial is nearly at full health now, and he expects his former player to be ready by the time summer workouts begin.
“I’ve watched Chol the last three years, and I can’t say enough about him as both a person and a basketball player,” Turgeon said in a statement. “One of the top players in his class when healthy, Chol’s tremendous size and length make him an excellent rim protector. Chol possesses a humble demeanor and a strong work ethic that will fit well with our family. We can’t wait to have him in College Park and look forward to helping him reach his dreams.”
Marial took an official visit to Maryland at the end of April, and he also visited New Mexico and Arizona State. Before Marial’s visit to College Park, Maryland coaches — first assistant Kevin Broadus and then Turgeon — visited Marial’s school. Broadus has left Maryland to become the head coach at Morgan State, but that did not affect Marial’s decision.
“They left there very impressed,” Kaffey said of the Maryland coaches. “They left knowing that he’s a kid that can really shoot the ball.”
Marial is the fifth member of the Terps’ incoming freshman class, following last month’s commitment from Hakim Hart, a shooting guard from Philadelphia. Marial and Hart join Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, twins from the District, and Donta Scott. Before the addition of Marial, Maryland’s class ranked third in the Big Ten and 28th in the country, according to 247Sports. Last year, Turgeon secured the top-ranked class in the Big Ten and the seventh-best class in the country.
With Marial, the Terrapins should have a strong frontcourt next season, even in the absence of Fernando, who announced last week that he would remain in the NBA draft. Jalen Smith, a 6-10 forward from Baltimore, opted to return for his sophomore season without testing the NBA draft waters, and Ricky Lindo, who played 12.3 minutes per game as a freshman, should figure into the rotation again. The program then adds the Mitchells, Scott and Marial, all of whom could compete for minutes in the frontcourt.