No, it wasn’t a mirage on Wednesday. That really was Mychal Parker logging five minutes in the first half for Maryland.
The freshman —- the most acclaimed, by recruiting services anyway, in Maryland’s five-man class —- had a steal, missed a shot and committed a foul during his stint over the final 5:13 of the first half.
The arc of the game didn’t change while he was on the court (the Terps trailed by nine when he entered and were 13 down at the break), but it was a rare look at a guy buried on Maryland’s bench for much of the season.
“He played well in practice and we were not doing well in the first half,” coach Gary Williams said. “I’m willing to try things. Mike was OK. It was good to see him out there.”
It was Parker’s 12th appearance this season for Maryland (18-12, 7-8 ACC), which meets Virginia on Saturday at Comcast Center in the regular season finale. But four of those games came in November, and another three came before ACC play resumed in January.
In short, he’s played in just five of the last 16 games —- the final minute or so of blowouts victories at Wake Forest and Virginia, in a pummeling of Longwood (the Terps already led by 24 when he first entered) and in losses to Virginia Tech and Miami.
Those were arguably Maryland’s ugliest outings of the season, and Parker’s presence on the floor certainly carried a hint of Williams trying whatever he could to turn around a bad situation.
Parker’s season totals aren’t particular jaw-dropping: 70 minutes, 17 points, 15 rebounds. It’s not all that dissimilar to another wing who barely played as a freshman: Landon Milbourne, who totaled 77 minutes, 16 points and 12 rebounds in his first year.
Milbourne, of course, started his final three seasons. And that makes Williams’ insistence Parker will be a difference-maker as a sophomore a bit more intriguing.
“He’s played better in practice the last couple weeks,” Williams said. “He’s really doing some good things off the court, too. He has a really good future. I think next year he’s going to be one of the key guys for us. He’s very athletic and knows the game. I think he’s going to help us.”
—- Patrick Stevens