Maryland's lack of any inside presence at both ends of the court was a large part of its disappointing 17-15 season.
Trying to rectify that, the Terps have added Slovakian 7-footer Michal Cekovsky, who spent last season playing at a basketball academy in the Canary Islands.
According to a source familiar with Maryland's recruiting, Cekovsky will be eligible to play in the 2014-15 season.
"He can really, really play," the source said.
Cekovsky will join a recruiting class that already includes 7-foot-1 Trayvon Reed, who moved from his home outside Atlanta to play his senior year at Life Center Academy in Burlington, N.J. That class, led by McDonald’s All-American Melo Trimble, is currently ranked 14th in the country by ESPN.com.
The only issue appears to be where Mark Turgeon will find a scholarship for Cekovsky.
Unless one of the current Terps transfers, Maryland would be two over the limit of 13 scholarship players — or one if rising senior forward Jon Graham goes back to walk-on status, which he and his family agreed to when he transferred from Penn State before last season.
Turgeon said last week that none of his current players have asked to be released from their scholarships.
The Terps beat out two Final Four teams -- Connecticut and Florida -- as well as Arizona and Louisville for Cekovsky, who was previously signed by a professional team, Partizan, but never played for them.
It isn’t clear what kind of arrangement Cekovsky had with Partizan, but the Terps have already been through this with Alex Len, who had to sit out the first 10 games of the 2011-12 season because he had been on a professional team in Ukraine.
Unlike Len, who had played in a few professional games, Cekovsky had not played in a game with Partizan. The NCAA has also relaxed its rules since Len was forced to sit out. Maryland expects Cekovsky to be eligible from the start of the season, according to a source.
Cekovsky, 19, is older than Len was when he arrived in College Park. Cekovsky is also more versatile than Len, as he can play both facing the basket as a power forward (with 3-point range) as well as with his back to the basket. Cekovsky is listed at 7 feet, 225 pounds.
Evan Daniels, a recruiting analyst for ScoutHoops.com, said that it isn’t “fully clear” which schools aside from Maryland were recruiting Cekovsky at the end.
“He’s talented. He would be in the top 100 if he lived in the United States,” said Daniels, who has seen Cekovsky play twice in person. “He’s got a good set of hands, a nice touch around the basket, moves pretty well for a guy his size. He’s capable of hitting hook shots, capable of stepping away from the rim and hitting mid-range jump shots. He’s got a lot of tools to work with.”