With Gary and The University of Maryland letting Braxton Dupree out of his scholarship earlier today the Terps have ended a saga that began with so much promise. In 2007 Braxton was the 16th rated center in the nation coming out of Calvert Hall, a program which produced perhaps Maryland’s most heralded player Juan Dixon. Unfortunately Braxton story didn’t end in the story book fashion Juan’s did but instead read like a Stephen King horror novel. The 6’8” 260 pound Dupree came to College Park a raw, skilled big man with a lot of potential, but his dedication and weight were concerns that Braxton never seemed to shed throughout his two years at Maryland. In his freshman year playing behind seniors James Gist and Boom Osby, Braxton played in 24 games averaging just 10.0 minutes per game with 2.1ppg and 2.4rpg.
After an off-season where Braxton had worked out intensely and had reportedly lost a good deal of weight the expectations were high for a center that was part of a team that had nobody else to play the position. Braxton started the season in the starting lineup but never established himself as the post presence the Terps were so desperately searching for. Eventually Braxton lost his starting job when former Catholic League Foe turned teammate Sean Mosley cracked the starting lineup as a true freshman. Throughout the season Braxton simply seemed overmatched in an ACC that was loaded with talented post players and became a non-factor as his minutes were taken by Dave Neal and Dino Gregory. Braxton ended his sophomore season playing in 27 of Maryland’s 34 games including just 3 total minutes of playing time in the Terps NCAA Tournament run. While a lot of Terps fans would shower him with superlatives one thing that was undeniable is Braxton was consistent; in his sophomore season he played 10.3 minutes per game while averaging 2.5ppg and 2.2rpg. In his two seasons at Maryland Braxton shot an astonishing 38% from the field a shocking number when you consider a majority of his shots were lay-ups and dunks and he rarely took a shot from outside 5 feet.
In the end my guess is that Braxton could see the writing on the wall, with his role diminished to almost the 12th man by the end of his sophomore season what would his role be in 2009? Gary has actually gone out and recruited two interesting prospects that were going to eat up even more of Braxton’s minutes and relegate him to mop up duty. One of those prospects is Jordan Williams is the 16th rated center in the class of 2009 and is projected to start as a freshman next year. The 6’8” 245pound center out of Connecticut is proficient post scorer and rebounder who exploded on the national scene during his senior season. 6’8” 217 pound James Padgett is the other, a top 25 center prospect coming to College Park next year. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that the long, athletic Padgett played at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York where he was teammates with Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is the #1 rated small forward prospect in the entire 2009 class and is still considering College Park in his never ending recruiting process.
Another interesting development with the addition of an extra scholarship left behind by Braxton’s departure is the fact that former Maryland recruit DeShawn Painter decommited from Florida last week. Painter 4 star Power Forward from Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia would provide the Terps with great post depth.
While it is sad to see a player never reach their potential perhaps Braxton will be better served by playing his final two years at a smaller school. While nothing has been discussed I believe Braxton will find a soft landing spot at Loyola with former Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos. Patsos is creating a solid program on Charles Street has taken Maryland basketball refugees such as Andre Collins and Hassan Fofana in the past. In the end I wish Braxton the best I hope that he finds happiness wherever he lands and enjoys his last two years of college basketball.