While bracing for the reality of only eight scholarship players suiting up on the hardwood this winter, coach Mark Turgeon and the Terrapins have landed a giant recruit in center Shaquille Cleare for next year’s freshman class, according to numerous reports.
On Maryland’s radar long before former coach Gary Williams retired in May, the 6-foot-9, 285-pound center from The Village School in Houston has chosen the Terps over Arizona, Texas, Texas A&M, and a number of other schools. Long considered the favorite to land the big man, the hiring of Mark Turgeon presumably kept Maryland high on his list given the former Aggies coach’s familiarity with Cleare and his strong presence in the state of Texas.
Regarded as a four-star recruit and the 29th overall player in the class of 2012 by Rivals.com, Cleare’s commitment may open the door for other highly-rated recruits — perhaps a few Houston Defenders AAU teammates — to make their way to College Park in the coming years. Aside from his first name — the “Shaq” references will be plentiful — and massive size, Cleare has soft hands and a nice touch within 10 feet of the basket, according to those who have closely followed his development.
Cleare is the second member of Turgeon’s first real recruiting class, joining Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian point guard Seth Allen, who committed to the Terps in mid-May.