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November 17, 2009

Meet Ashton Pankey

By the time he was 12, Ashton Pankey had a pretty good idea that he would play college basketball.

The 6-foot seventh-grader was a good student who wasn’t enamored with the game just yet, but that changed in hurry, especially after throwing down his first dunk that year.

“From seventh to eighth grade I grew from 6 feet to 6-6,” Pankey said. “That’s when I had my previous growth spurt. ... At seventh grade, I wasn’t as serious about basketball. During high school, I became more serious.”

The Maryland-bound power forward has made that abundantly clear the past three years, first while starring for Archbishop Molloy in Queens, N.Y., and then as a junior with the legendary St. Anthony High program in Jersey City.

Pankey’s seventh-grade predictions about playing college basketball came into focus during those earlier high school years. He knew he wanted to leave the New York area, essentially eliminating St. John’s and Seton Hall from contention. When Maryland came calling this summer, Pankey found what he was looking for athletically and academically.

“I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level of basketball, and one thing I dream of is being a pro,” Pankey said. “I work my hardest and do what I need to do, and I think Maryland is going to give me the best chance [of realizing that dream]. And it’s not just basketball. Maryland’s one of the best schools in the country in terms of academics, too.”

Pankey and his mother, who he calls his “best friend,” visited College Park over Halloween weekend. It didn’t take long for Maryland to convince Pankey’s mother that it was the best place for her son.

“I mean [her approval] was very important, but at that point, I was just so stuck on Maryland that I thought even if she didn’t like it, I was going to go there anyway,” Pankey said with a laugh.

Pankey will likely be counted on to do what he does best -- rebounding and shot-blocking -- as a freshman at Maryland. Off the court, Pankey said he’s already friends with Terps freshman James Padgett from their New York playing days and he looks forward to connecting with the rest of the team -- not to mention the Maryland fan base.

“I want them to know that they can expect ... that I’m going to do my best to help the team win, play my hardest and just have a great time,” Pankey said. “I want to interact with the fans. I’m a great person and I’m not mean. You can come at me as a friend.”

Here’s an introduction to Pankey.

Name: Ashton Pankey
Birthdate: May 16, 1992
Birthplace: Bronx, N.Y.
Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.
Nickname: None
Height: 6-9
Weight: 230
Position: Power forward
High School: St. Anthony (N.J.)
Junior statistics: “About 10 points, two to three blocks per game."
Rankings: -- Three stars. -- Three stars, No. 36 power forward. -- 91 rating, No. 40 power forward.
Other schools considered: Drexel, Hofstra, Houston, Rice
Favorite pro basketball player: Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James
Favorite pro basketball team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Favorite all-time Terp: Steve Francis
Favorite music: Lil Wayne, Drake, Kanye West, Jay-Z
Favorite book: The Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski
Favorite movie: Coach Carter
Favorite TV show: SpongeBob SquarePants
Favorite food: “I like everything.”
Favorite high school class: Math
Favorite thing about College Park: “The atmosphere. It’s a friendly atmosphere around there.”
Hobbies: “Going out to the movies, chilling with friends. I don’t have a lot of down time for myself during the season. Besides basketball, I don’t really do much.”
Intended major: “Probably business.”
Something that not many people know about you: “I’m friendly. A lot of people think I’m conceited, [but I’m not]. So if you see me outside one day, come and talk to me. I won’t bite.”
Best basketball moment: “When I caught my first dunk. It was great.”
Role model: “Michael Jordan [because] he’s the best basketball player ever.”
Why Maryland? “I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level of basketball, and one thing I dream of is being a pro. I work my hardest and do what I need to do, and I think Maryland is going to give me the best chance [of realizing that dream]. And it’s not just basketball. Maryland’s one of the best schools in the country in terms of academics, too.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:43 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Meet the recruit


Good stuff Matt. Ashton seems like a quality kid. GO TERPS!


Does Ashton have a brother name Hanky?

1st: Ashton is a nice pickup for the terps. 2nd: CLIFF TUCKER NEEDS TO PLAY MORE! 3rd: Can't help but feel like theres some shady dealings going on down in Memphis. Tsafack was an S.A.T. score away from coming to College Park. His bags were pack and he was ready to come to Maryland according to a couple of different recruiting websites. He then takes an impromptu visit to Memphis and verbally commits the next day? Sounds like Pastner's taking a page outta the old "snake oil salesman"coaches book who was there before him. Oh yeah, 1 more thing. CLIFF TUCKER NEEDS TO PLAY MORE! Go terps!

Matt, are you going to speak to Maryland losing out on the best point guards in the country. They happen to all live in the Baltimore Waahington area....USA Today found time you might want to do a better job of reporting.

wrkouthrd, nah - Calipari doesn't coach at Memphis, anymore. :) I wish there were more minutes for Tucker.

Matt, I see you list Pankey at 6'9, 230. Is that what he looks like to you?

tony dixon -- I did read that USA Today piece. I've written quite a bit about Josh Selby and Eric Atkins in the past, and will continue to write about Selby. Maryland took Stoglin last April, so it's been clear for awhile that none of the local point guards would end up at UM.

Ruzious -- I've never seen Pankey in person. 6-9, 230 is what he told me. One of his AAU coaches said "he's a legit 6-8." So he's somewhere in that neighborhood.

I predict a wonderful college career for Ashton. He comes from a high-profile program with an overaggressive coach and that will prepare him for the ACC and Gary. Work ethic is unquestionable and is the 1st thing several coaches, scouting services mentioned whan asked about him. Look past the size of the programs who were recruiting him and understand that coaches don't get every player right as far as skills and projections. Gary's getting a hard working shot blocker type and he will be alot closer to Boom Osby than Mike Mardesich...not a start but a big key to success and letting skill players perform

In the past when Md has had established low post players and then a new recruit comes in they get to learn from players as well as coaches. That helps alot because Lonny, Randle, Wilcox, and Holden didn't all come in at the same time but ended up being a offensive and defensive force in 2002. Padget, Williams, and Ash will have the same chance but I think you will see that sooner rather than later.

Hey wrkouthrd,

Cliff Tucker needs to play BETTER.

How good can Pankey be.. Look at the other schools recruiting him,, Drexel, Rice, Hoftra??? Not exactly Duke, NC or UCLA are they

Can anyone tell me who recruited Juan Dixon or Lonny Baxter? No one, really. Seems to me that those two won a national championship. The ONLY Maryland men's basketball national championship.

cliff tucker needs more time as the starting 2 guard. talentwise, he has nba potential. he didn't see it because gvaz had to start with hayes, but tucker is THAT guy. not the wing. if i have one gripe on gary wiliams its that he has a bad habit of trying to force uber athletically talented players to a role or just limit them unless he really just likes them.
the teams best scorer -mike jones was listed as a #3 scoring option behind dj strawberry and then ibekwe? what? chris wilcox had how many points on his own hustle and aggressiveness? laron profit although still very accomplished, went from an upcoming scoring, defensively-talented potential stud to just a 'productive college player'.
now tucker. he is 6'6. a solid 205. strong. aggressive offensively. he could transfer to another D1 program and average 15 points easily. and they couldn't score last year because what?
let tucker play.
what gives!?!

Space.. Mike Jones couldn't dribble the more than 2 times without getting himself into trouble...let alone use his left hand or create his own shot. Sure, we all wanted him to be a star because of his rep coming in, but he didn't get it. If he was so talented, Gary Williams wouldn't have been enough to keep him from playing in the NBA. As for Tucker, he doesn't make good decisions with the ball consistently, gets himself into bad spots on the floor with the dribble, and is missing either the confidence with the ball in his hands or the skills to get himself out of the trouble he gets himself into. Talent is there, and flashes of potential are there, but if he you can't do it consistently, he's not a starter

Is Ashton Pankey related to former NFL lineman and Maryland native Irv Pankey?

mike jones was waves more talented then was ever allowed shown. rarely got the 'give him the ball and let him go" open field that garyDub allows vasquez, or allowed dixon, or francis or even strawberry for that matter.

at some level, you have to give a player- in any sport, the chance to go and develop in an opportunity where that potential is there. tucker hasn't played his way out of any rotation with waves of bad or even below average performances. in another post someone made a reference to rodney elliot, who was viewed as a career bench warmer, who when he got a shot carved a name for himself in college park.
tucker's got more upside.

i just feel that gDub needs to let his players go a bit more. ease down on the throttle a bit and give them a bit more space to grow.

hey you probably dont remember me but i am your cousin and your uncle is my father allan pankey we were at a family reunion together and also our family went to your parents wedding you are doing really good and keep up the good work.

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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