CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maryland’s coaching change at the midpoint of James Padgett’s career offered a pair of opportunities.
One was obvious. The Terrapins were short-handed for much of last season, and Maryland had little choice but to play the power forward.
But it also was a fresh start, a chance to make a first impression on new coach Mark Turgeon after two years as a back-of-the-rotation option.
“He gave me a lot of freedom to play my game and make mistakes and learn on the job,” Padgett said. “He was new; I was pretty new playing under him. It was my first time playing a lot of minutes. I think we grew together.”
Indeed, the Brooklyn native produced a mildly surprising junior year, averaging 8.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for a team with well-documented deficiencies in the paint.
He impressed with his offensive rebounding. His once-raw scoring ability at least became a little more consistent. In the process, he more than capitalized on his career reset with Turgeon, who was willing (partially out of necessity) to let Padgett figure things out.
By season’s end, the Terps had a rotational piece who they could at least count on in some capacity for the following year.
For all of his progress, there is less-desired attention as well. Padgett faces a Friday trial after being charged in June with driving while impaired.
Turgeon declined to comment on Padgett’s status Wednesday since the case remains active. The school’s student-athlete code of conduct stipulates any player charged with a DUI or DWI must sit out 10 percent of his team’s regular-season schedule.
Unlike last season, Padgett (the lone remaining player from Maryland’s last NCAA tournament team) missing three games might not crush the Terps.
Sophomore Alex Len is stronger after a full year at Maryland, and the frontcourt was fortified with the addition of freshmen Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell.
Nonetheless, Padgett could be a significant influence in his final season with the Terps. He is the only four-year scholarship senior on the roster, and both he and junior guard Pe’Shon Howard were recently named team captains.
It also means a higher profile for a player who was unaccustomed to the spotlight before last season.
“He didn’t talk a lot last year, but he’s definitely pressing this year to be that leader, to keep everyone focused and keep everyone locked in,” guard Nick Faust said. “He’s been that vocal guy.”View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
By Mark Mix
Home day care providers would be forced into unions
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
What does the middle-class conservative think about everything? Find out here.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal