COLLEGE PARK - Sophomore Hassan Fofana, who has played sparingly in six games this season, has left Maryland's basketball program and will transfer, Terps coach Gary Williams announced yesterday.
Fofana, a 6-foot-10, 280-pound center, informed Williams of his plans yesterday morning. He will finish the semester in College Park and then enroll at another school, though he hasn't chosen a school or decided when he'll enroll, said Gary Gibbons, Fofana's guardian.
"He got his release [yesterday] and now we'll start looking at possibilities," said Gibbons, who lives in Weston, Mass., and has been Fofana's guardian for the past three-plus years. "He wanted it to work out, but he understands that in order to reach his full potential, he has to be playing every day."
Wherever Fofana lands, he will have to sit out a year as per NCAA rules. Williams said the player will leave Maryland in good academic standing.
The announcement comes after Fofana did not play in two of Maryland's past three games. Labeled a project when he arrived in College Park - the Guinea native didn't start playing basketball until about five years ago - he was averaging 7.3 minutes a game, about a minute less than in his freshman season.
He had seemingly fallen behind 7-1 sophomore Will Bowers on the Terps' depth chart and was losing even more minutes because of the emergence of 6-9 freshman James Gist. Fofana was averaging two points and 1.3 rebounds a game.
Williams, who was hoping Fofana would help offset the loss of last year's starting center, Jamar Smith, said on several occasions before the start of the season that Fofana had improved. The coach credited his inside presence with helping the Terps beat Clemson last January.
However, the 21-year-old appeared to regress at times. Totaling 15 minutes in the Terps' first two games, Fofana had zero rebounds.
"Sometimes, it's a positive thing for a player to get a fresh start," said Williams. "It could [hurt our depth], but we still have plenty of inside players."
Fofana chose Maryland in part because of Williams' reputation for developing big men, and felt a connection with then Terps assistant Jimmy Patsos, now the head coach at Loyola. Gibbons said it is still too early to determine if Loyola could be a future destination for Fofana.