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NCAAB: Maryland out to develop ‘Big Ten depth’ vs. transfer-heavy GW

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With the free movement of transfers and the added eligibility afforded by the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA basketball landscape has never looked like this.

And there’s no better example of the new normal in college hoops than George Washington.

The Colonials have nine players who started their college career at another Division I school, more than any other team in the NCAA. Additionally, GW has three graduate students and three seniors, none of whom will exhaust their eligibility this season.

Thursday night when GW makes the short commute to No. 21 Maryland, the Colonials will try to put their disparate pieces together to upset the Terps.

In his third year at GW, coach Jamion Christian has only one player left on the roster from his debut season. Such is the turnover the Atlantic-10 school has undergone under Christian’s watch, as he has produced a 18-32 mark.

“Our chemistry is in a great place this year,” Christian said. “It wasn’t in a great place a year ago.”

Christian has a strong point guard to build around in James Bishop, a former player at LSU who is the conference’s top returning scorer (19.1 ppg last season). Ricky Lindo, who played two seasons at Maryland, logged only seven games for GW last year but the 6-8 forward made the most of them averaging 11.4 points and 10.7 rebounds.

The only player back from Christian’s first GW squad, Amir Harris, figures to play a prominent role after missing last year with an injury. Transfers in the rotation are 6-4 guards Joe Bamisile (Virginia Tech) and Brendan Adams (UConn).

GW won’t be at a size disadvantage against Maryland as its roster includes seven players 6-foot-8 or taller including holdovers Hunter Dean and Noel Brown and transfers Ira Lee (Arizona) and Qwanzi Samuels (Florida Gulf Coast).

“I feel great about the length and athleticism, and I’ve talked a ton about our versatility,” Christian said.

Maryland can counter with its own key pair of transfers. Graduate point guard Fatts Russell, the all-time steals leader at Rhode Island, averaged 14.7 points, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals last year.

Qudus Wahab, a 6-11 center from Georgetown, was rated the No. 3 transfer in the nation by CBSSports.com. He averaged 12.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for the Big East champions.

The transfers join Eric Ayala, last year’s top scorer (15.1 points last season) and a fixture in the lineup for the fourth straight year after exploring his NBA stock.

“He can really score the ball,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “He’s gonna be a go-to guy when the game’s on the line.”

Also in the starting lineup are 6-8 Donta Scott, who shot 44 percent from beyond the arc last season, averaging 11 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds, and Hakim Hart, a 6-8 swingman who averaged 7.1 points per game.

“There’s a real upside to this team,” Turgeon said. “There’s depth and then there’s Big Ten depth. We’re not there with everybody yet.”

While the Terps lead the series 36-31, the Colonials have captured seven of the last 13 meetings, including the most recent, a 77-75 victory in the 2013 BB&T Classic.

–Field Level Media

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