University of Maryland freshman Sam Cassell Jr. is unlikely to suit up for the Terps this year – and perhaps beyond – due to NCAA eligibility issues.
Cassell, a 6-foot-3 guard who signed with the Terps in the spring and was expected to compete for immediate playing time, attended Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., as a post-graduate student last season. It’s unclear if the academic roadblock relates to coursework from Notre Dame or from his previous schools in his native Baltimore – Towson Catholic and St. Frances Academy – but Cassell is unlikely to play for Maryland during the upcoming season and possibly beyond, multiple prep coaches with knowledge of the situation told InsideMDSports.
If Cassell prefers to remain committed to Maryland, sources said, he could attend a junior college for two years and earn an associate degree before returning to College Park. But he’s also exploring the possibility of moving on to a school -- potentially one competing in the Atlantic 10 -- that accepts players under NCAA Proposition 48, which allows partial qualifiers to enroll immediately and begin competing during their second season.
The likely absence of Cassell, a combination guard regarded as a crafty all-around scorer and accurate outside shooter, will place additional burden on a group of Maryland guards featuring some question marks.
Two newcomers, freshman combo guard Seth Allen and Albany transfer Logan Aronhalt, a shooting guard, will likely see their respective roles increased. Junior point guard Pe’Shon Howard is coming off a sophomore year that included a broken foot and a season-ending ACL injury, though Howard is on track to practice full-speed at season’s start, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said last week. Promising sophomore wing Nick Faust is expected to be Maryland's top perimeter scoring threat, but isn't regarded as an outside marksman.
Maryland also recently signed touted Xavier transfer Dezmine Wells, who shot nearly 38 percent on 3-pointers last season, but Wells won't be eligible to play this season unless the NCAA approves Maryland's impending waiver request.
Cassell Jr., the son of former Florida State star and NBA point guard Sam Cassell, committed to Maryland last spring before re-considering other schools -- Connecticut, Florida State and South Florida among them – and eventually reaffirming his commitment at the Capital Classic all-star game in April. Once regarded as a likely mid-major prospect, he’d spent the past several years fine-tuning his game in hopes of earning attention from bigger schools. He averaged 16 points per game at Notre Dame, which plays in the ultra-competitive New England Prep School Athletic Conference.
Maryland’s athletic department hasn’t yet released any information related to Cassell’s status.