(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images )
Maryland, which struggled to find the answer at point guard this season, will enter 2013-14 with a new starter at the position after the announcement that incumbent Pe’Shon Howard is transferring to another school for his senior year.
Howard, a Californian who grew up immersed in celebrity culture as the grandson of a Los Angeles hair stylist, is likely to transfer to a school in California or close to it. His grandfather, Bill Howard, moved to Maryland to be with Pe’Shon Howard during his college years. But his grandmother, Bill Howard’s ex-wife — who still lives in California — has serious health issues and the player wants to be in closer proximity.
“It’s the only decision,” Bill Howard said. “Pe’Shon’s grandmother is very ill.”
Maryland was looking to make changes at the position and Seth Allen is a likely fit with Roddy Peters as the backup. Allen, a quick combo guard who led Maryland’s freshman class by averaging 7.8 points per game, is viewed by the team as a good option. He started seven games and was more of a scorer than a passer. But coaches believe he has the talent to be an effective point guard.
Allen broke his shooting (left) hand during a late-season practice but is expected to be ready well before next season. Allen has seen a specialist, but it’s uncertain if surgery will be required.
Next season’s team will also include Peters (Suitland), a point guard and a consensus four-star prospect. Maryland believes Peters could step in immediately as Allen’s backup.
Maryland could also pick up another point guard before the season. Four of the allotted 13 scholarships are now unfilled.
Howard is the final member to depart from a class that entered in 2010 when Gary Williams was the coach. Fellow guard Terrell Stoglin was suspended and left school to pursue a professional career. Forward Hawk Palsson left for a pro career overseas. Ashton Pankey (Manhattan) and Mychal Parker (Georgetown College in Ky.) also transferred. Center Berend Weijs, a junior college transfer, graduated last year.
Howard and senior James Padgett were the last players on the roster to be coached by Williams, who retired after the 2010-11 season.
“We are disappointed that he is leaving,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of Howard in a written statement. “But Pe’Shon shared with me that his grandmother is ill in California and that he would like to finish his final season of eligibility playing closer to home.”
Howard said in the prepared statement: “ It was a very difficult decision because I really enjoyed my three years as a student-athlete at Maryland, but my grandmother is sick and I feel it is best that I be closer to my family.”
Unless he completes enough credits to graduate this summer or obtains a hardship waiver, Howard will need to sit out a year if he transfers to a Division I school.
Howard calls Bill Howard “Dad,” and has a tattoo rendering of him on his torso near the words, “Like father, like son.”
Maryland was hampered by inconsistent point guard play, particularly on the road. The problem nagged at Turgeon, a former Kansas point guard, all season.
In the beginning of the season, Turgeon set a goal of a 2-1 assists-to-turnover ratio. Maryland finished with a 1-1 ratio, eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Terps (25-13) missed the NCAA tournament for the third staight year and second under Turgeon. But Maryland upset Duke in the ACC tournament and won three games in the National Invitation Tournament before losing to Iowa at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals.
Howard had two points with four assists and four turnovers in what turned out to be his last Maryland game.
Howard, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard, averaged 3.3 points and 3.6 assists in 36 games (24 starts) this season. For his career, Howard has averaged 4.7 points and 3.5 assists in 83 games. Allen and Nick Faust also played some at the point this season.
Howard was self-assured enough that he wore the jersey number (“21”) of former Terps point guard Greivis Vasquez, now with the New Orleans Hornets. It was a number he wore in high school.
In November 2010, Howard swished in a basket with three seconds left to lift Maryland to a 75-74 victory over College of Charleston. It was one of the best moments of his Maryland career.
Howard, a flashy passer in the open court and a solid defender, later suffered a series of injuries. They included a broken foot in 2011 and a season-ending knee injury in 2012
This season, he was suspended for the home win over Duke for unspecified reasons. Turgeon had earlier accused Howard of “pouting” when things didn’t go his way. Howard seemed to lose confidence in his shot this season and saw his scoring average dip. He was not available for interviews on Monday.
Maryland opens next season on Nov. 8 against Connecticut at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.