Kudos to Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon for finding a way to get Shaquille Cleare home to his native Bahamas this summer. The Terps will begin a week-long exhibition swing through the islands on Monday. Sadly for Cleare, he won’t be able to suit up and actually play in front of his family.
It’s especially unfortunate because Cleare has lost a fair amount of weight this summer. He went from 280 lbs., his playing weight at the end of last season, to around 257 today. In fact, his hard work in slimming down may have contributed to his current injury status, according to the Washington Post.
[D]uring a summer workout, Cleare strained a hamstring. The pain carried into his back. He’s been hurt almost a month now, only recently progressing to half-speed participation during practice. The weight has stayed off, but rushing Cleare back for exhibitions – even in his native country – doesn’t make sense.
Cleare will still fly out with the team, and stay home with his parents after everyone else flies back on Friday. So the trip won’t be a total loss.
The 6’9″ Cleare averaged just 3.7 points and 2.7 boards per contest last season, playing in the considerable shadow of Alex Len, so Terps fans are probably pretty bummed they won’t get to see what Cleare can do, even against the limited competition in an exhibition game. With Len off as the number five pick in the NBA draft, and Maryland moving to the Big Ten, the Terps have a lot riding on Cleare’s ability to recover and play up to his potential in the upcoming season.