A tumultuous offseason continued Friday for the Maryland men's basketball team, with the announcement that rising junior guard Seth Allen has decided to transfer.
Rumored since Wednesday, Allen's departure became official when third-year coach Mark Turgeon signed Allen's release Friday, allowing the team's second-leading scorer to leave the program
Allen becomes the fourth Maryland scholarship player, and fifth overall, to depart since the end of the Terps' disappointing 17-15 season.
Rising junior guard Nick Faust (City), rising sophomore center Shaquille Cleare, rising sophomore guard Roddy Peters and rising sophomore walk-on forward A.J. Metz all announced plans to transfer last month. Faust and Cleare have signed to play at Oregon State and Texas, respectively.
Turgeon said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that he has to “take total blame” for the departures.
“You don't lose four guys and say, ‘Oh, it can't be me,' ” Turgeon said. “This is new territory for me. This has never happened” during his career as a head coach.
Turgeon said it was unclear as to why Allen left, but that he enjoyed coaching the 6-foot-1 guard, the first player to sign with the program after he took over in 2011.
“Seth's a very good player. He won a lot of ballgames for us,” Turgeon said.
Over a two-year career marked by injuries in each season, Allen averaged 9.8 points a game, including 13.4 as a sophomore after missing the first 12 games with a broken foot. Allen also missed the last two games of Maryland's National Invitation Tournament run during his freshman year with a broken hand.
Allen, who scored a career-high 32 points in a win over Florida State last season, was expected to move from point guard to his more natural position on the wing next season with the arrival of incoming freshman Melo Trimble, a McDonald's All-American. Allen had seemed more comfortable in his role as a scorer than distributor: He averaged three assists and 1.7 turnovers per game last season.
Allen could not be reached for comment, but his former Amateur Athletic Union coach said Allen's decision to leave was a matter of “a fit.”
“A fit is everything — it's relationships, coaches, players, how they're going to play offensively and defensively,” said Craig Boothe, who coached Allen on the Northern Virginia-based Hoop Booth team. “There was an uncomfortability that exacerbated over time.
“A coach has every right to re-evaluate the player and the fit of the player based on behavior and academics and whether or not to retain that player or recruit another player on him. Players can say the same thing and reassess their situations. … I think it's not fair to say when a player makes a decision and says, ‘I've got to move on,' it's necessarily based on a problem.”
Boothe said Allen's departure also had nothing to do with the imminent arrival of Trimble, the top-rated member of a five-player recruiting class ranked eighth nationally by ESPN.com.
“Seth Allen has no concern about Melo Trimble taking his spot,” Boothe said.
Turgeon initially denied a report Wednesday that Allen had asked for his release and that rising junior forward Charles Mitchell, the team's leading rebounder last season, was also considering leaving.
If Mitchell transfers, rising junior forward Jake Layman would be the lone remaining member of Turgeon's initial recruiting class, in 2012.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said Friday that the exodus of players at Maryland is more a reflection of the landscape of college basketball than it is on the type of program Turgeon is running.
“If you don't play in position, if you have to make a sacrifice, if you have the ball in your hands or don't have the ball, now it's more acceptable to transfer,” Bilas said. “You don't want to overuse the word ‘culture'; even players in AAU jump from one team to another with no rhyme or reason.”
Bilas thinks the Terps can be successful next season in the Big Ten Conference without the four scholarship players, and possibly five, who will not join them there.
“Sometimes, when guys leave that are not happy, it improves things," Bilas said. “It improves the situation for the guy that leaves and it improves the situation for the environment he leaves behind.”
Turgeon said he will reassess the way he runs his program to prevent future exoduses from the program.
“I've got to take a look at everything, I've got to take a look at myself and everything on this deal,” he said. “I do think it's part of the culture. … I've got to make sure this doesn't happen in the future. With that said, I like the guys returning and I like the guys coming in.”