Ashton Pankey - the missing big man for the St. John's Red Storm?
Maryland forward Ashton Pankey - originally of the Bronx, once a target of Norm Roberts' when he was the head coach of St. John's, and current Maryland forward is transferring. Per Adam Zagoria's sources, Pankey is looking to transfer closer to home for family reasons. St. John's is one of his schools of interest, along with Iona and Fordham.
The Red Storm technically have two scholarships left - one held for verbal recruit Darrick Wood as he works to get eligible for the 2012-13 season, and one held for a big man like Michael Chandler, a player who can make an impact in the post. Ashton Pankey was a redshirt freshman last year; he could come in as a sophomore if he plays next season. But it's unlikely that he would get a second redshirt, so he runs the risk of losing a year of eligibility.
At 6'9" and 220 pounds, Pankey isn't the most athletic post specimen, but he can really help St. John's where they are still deficient - rebounding. St. John's was very interested in Pankey for the 2012 season, inviting him to the Red Storm's first "Elite Camp". Pankey played for the New Heights AAU team back when Kimani Young was coaching the team (and after he left his assistant position with St. John's basketball).
Steve Lavin and his staff have a choice to make as they seek to boost St. John's presence in the post. Do they accept the risk and pursue Pankey to play in the paint, knowing that the NCAA could deny his waiver to play immediately? Or do the Red Storm continue to wait on the talented Michael Chandler as he waits for his NCAA eligibility decision?
Pankey averaged 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20 minutes per game; his defensive rebound and offensive rebound rates (17.1% and 10.1% of available boards, respectively) were solid, and he didn't turn the ball over. Pankey shot 45% from the floor, all inside the arc. He shot 55% from the free throw line for Mark Turgeon's Terrapins.
Pankey wasn't a high usage player who needed touches in high school at St. Anthony's. His second-year emergence at Maryland proved that to be his game - a low-scoring, efficient, dirty-work rebounder, the kind of player that can meld with aggressive guard and wing scorers.
But Pankey struggled at times with his confidence and consistency. Head Coach Mark Turgeon went so far to say Pankey played "brain-dead" at times. "Ashton's got to figure another way to help us. We can't sit around and sulk and pout," Turgeon said to the Baltimore Sun. "We've talked at length with Ashton about it. We need him to play well for us to win a game like that. We're trying with him. We just keep plugging."
More on the story as it develops.
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