COLLEGE PARK - Two weeks into preseason workouts, freshman guard Sean Mosley seemed ready to claim a spot in Maryland's starting lineup. His maturity and court savvy outweighed his inexperience; his toughness overshadowed the rough edges in his game.
Then the former St. Frances star sprained an ankle. Mosley missed more than a week of practice, including a scrimmage at Temple and an exhibition game against Northwood. Sophomores Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie passed Mosley in Maryland's crowded backcourt rotation.
Going into tonight's game against No. 5 Michigan State in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex outside Orlando, Fla., Mosley is still waiting for a chance to prove he was worthy of the hoopla coming out of high school.
"I'm trying to get in a rhythm right now. It's going to take awhile because it's an adjustment for me," said Mosley, who played a season-low four minutes in Maryland's 89-74 overtime win over Vermont on Friday. "But you know, once the season gets rolling, I'll be more in a flow and get a feel for the game."
Maryland coach Gary Williams is confident that might happen fairly soon.
"He really knows the game; he knows where the ball is supposed to go," Williams said of the 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard. "He's a very quick learner. He's come into a situation where Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker have gotten better at the same time."
Junior guard Eric Hayes empathizes with Mosley, having experienced it himself.
"It's definitely a tough thing to do when you're coming from high school. He was a lot more highly touted than I was," Hayes said. "Trying to find out where your niche is and trying to find out where you can help the team, you're not the guy getting the ball every time. I think Sean is doing a great job. He's a very unselfish guy."
Mosley doesn't think the adjustment has been as difficult as it might seem after finishing his career as the second-leading high school scorer in state history.
"In high school, I wouldn't call myself a superstar, I was still a role player," said Mosley, whose playing style and personality have been compared to those of former Terps star Keith Booth, now an assistant. "I was a leader, and that was my role to play. That's what I did on the court and off the court, and I will do the same here."
The wait Mosley is going through now seems almost insignificant compared with what he experienced last summer, when his academic eligibility at Maryland was still in question. Admitted to the university July 9, Mosley was cleared by the NCAA on July 29.
"It was tough for me," Mosley said. "I couldn't let my family down, for one, and the coaches that I played for. People back home have a lot of respect for me; a lot of kids look up to me.
"Just having to get my score, [I] was kind of under pressure. I had faith in myself and a lot of people had faith in me, so I had to what I had to do to get here to play at the University of Maryland."
Mosley's selection of Maryland after his junior year was considered something of a recruiting coup, not only because the Terps got a player of his talent but also because Williams had lost a number of blue-chip players from Baltimore to other schools.
But Richard Mosley Sr., who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., but settled in Baltimore after finishing his military service at Fort Meade back in the early 1970s, had long wanted the youngest of his five children, three of them sons, to become a Terp.
"I've always been a stickler for loyalty. I teach that to my kids," the elder Mosley, who works for the state's Office of Economic Development, said before a recent game. "This is your home state; give them the first opportunity. If they don't come after you, no problem. Maryland was in early, and we knew Gary Williams was very much like his AAU coach style-wise. It was a no-brainer for me."
It eventually became that for the younger Mosley, as well.
"Just being here now, it's a wonderful feeling for me," Mosley said. "A couple of years ago, I used to watch Gary Williams coaching and Juan Dixon and those guys from Baltimore that I played with in the summertime. It's just a blessing for me, a dream come true. I'll take advantage of every opportunity I get."
Williams doesn't seem concerned over Mosley's slow start. "He was starting until he sprained his ankle. He had done very well," Williams said. "He's going to play a lot, whatever his role is going to be."
Mosley has shown flashes of what Williams is expecting to see: Mosley had a team-high four assists in 17 minutes in a season-opening win against Bucknell, as well as six points and four rebounds in 10 minutes against Youngstown State. But he has hit only three of 11 shots so far.
"My scoring ability is more effective when I'm in the flow," Mosley said. "Right now, I'm trying to find what the team needs for us to be successful in March when it really counts."
MARYLAND (3-0) VS. NO. 5 MICHIGAN STATE (2-0)
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