In a rather shocking development Friday night, Maryland men’s basketball announced freshman forwards Makhi and Makhel Mitchell would enter the transfer portal, ending their time in College Park, according to Jeff Ermann of 247 Sports.
The twin forwards, who are natives of Washington D.C., had both had an up-and-down start to their college careers. They both saw time at the beginning of the season but as conference play approached, both players minutes significantly decreased with Makhel even seeing some DNP’s.
“I want to thank Makhel and Makhi for their contributions to the program. This was a decision we felt was best for both sides and we wish them and their family the best moving forward ,” said head coach Mark Turgeon in a press release.
Albeit strange timing, it makes sense for the Mitchell’s themselves. Given NCAA transfer rules, if the twins can enroll in another university before the second semester of classes start then they could be eligible as soon as late December of next season. According to Ermann, Georgetown is a potential fit for the duo.
Despite their lack of production, this is still a significant loss for the Terps this season. After sophomore Jalen Smith, both Mitchell’s were who Turgeon trusted to fill the void at the center position. Having the 6’10 brothers alleviated pressure off of Smith who didn’t have to guard opposing centers all game.
Without the Mitchell twins, the Terps will be scrambling to find minutes at the five. Smith will have less chances to sit or slide down to power forward, meaning freshman Donta Scott and sophomore Ricky Lindo Jr. will have to play more at power forward. Maryland could also look to senior Joshua Tomaic to play some center. Tomaic appeared in 20 games last season and averaged 3.6 minutes but this year has been relegated to a deeper bench role, only appearing in three games.
The X-Factor for the Terps remains freshman Chol Marial. The 7’2 center is coming off of surgery on both legs and is expected to make his debut on Sunday against Bryant. The upside with Marial is obvious given his length, but the native of South Sudan has not truly played competitive basketball in the past year given his injuries. Marial’s health and ability to guard opposing centers may determine the Terps ceiling this year. If Marial and Tomaic can combine for 10-15 competent minutes at center, Turgeon’s squad can survive this.
While the departure of the duo hurts this year’s team, the impending transfer news has serious implications on the future of this program. Given they had two freshmen forwards on the roster, the coaching staff spent the summer recruiting guards and wings in the 2020 class. With Jalen Smith expected to turn pro and and Tomaic graduating in the spring, the Terps could have no centers on the roster except Marial. The staff could search for a post player in the 2020 class but given that the early signing period has passed, many of the top prospects have already committed elsewhere. Turgeon will likely have to take a flier on a lower-rated 2020 big or scour the grad transfer market.
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