Ashton Pankey commits to Maryland
St. Anthony (N.J.) power forward Ashton Pankey committed to Maryland today, giving the Terps their fourth commitment of the 2010 recruiting class.
Pankey, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior, chose the Terps over offers from Houston, Rice, Drexel and Hofstra. He joins Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita point guard Terrell Stoglin, Montrose Christian shooting guard Terrence Ross and Miller School (Va.) small forward Mychal Parker in Maryland's class.
“I think it’s a win-win situation,” said Jeff Rivera, one of Pankey’s AAU coaches with the New York-based New Heights program. “I think it’s a great fit for both Ashton and the University of Maryland. Obviously, Coach [Gary] Williams has seen him and Coach [Chuck] Driesell was following him around this summer and has been to a number of his workouts at St. Anthony's. I think it’ll be good for his potential. Hopefully everything will work itself out.”
Rivera has coached New Heights for the past four years. While it’s tough for big guys to distinguish themselves in an “unorganized and mostly guard-oriented” AAU setting, Pankey has done his best to stand out on the circuit.
“In AAU basketball, there’s really not much organization -- it’s a lot of run-and-gun,” Rivera said. “But Maryland was intrigued by his athleticism. He’s a terrific athlete that can run up and down the floor and beat a lot of big men down the floor. He’s a good leaper and the kid just rebounds the basketball. A lot of times I’ll ask myself, ‘How the hell did he get that rebound?’ A lot of other big men are still on the first jump and he’s on his second.”
Kimani Young, New Heights’ athletic director and a former standout player at UTEP, cited Pankey’s athleticism, rebounding and shot-blocking prowess, and ability to step out and hit the 15-foot jumper, as strengths in his game. Maryland is the right place for Pankey to tap into that potential, Young said.
“Absolutely I think they got a steal,” Young said. “But I think in some regard, he got a steal, too. He’s going to a great program with a great coach and great tradition. ... [Maryland] saw him and identified that the potential is there. And you can do that when you have two or three big guys that are young and getting better at the same time. He’ll fit right in with that mix.”
Pankey took an official visit to College Park on Halloween and followed that up with a trip to Houston last weekend. But ever since Maryland started recruiting Pankey last summer, Rivera had a feeling that would be his destination.
“His mother didn’t want him to just go to school for basketball,” Rivera said. “She wanted him to go to a good school where he could get a good education. When Maryland was getting involved, I knew that would satisfy for him what he wanted in a school. He wants to compete at the highest level and challenge himself playing in the ACC, so I thought it was a great fit.”
Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Pankey’s decision.