Maryland announces addition of 6-foot-9 Croatian forward


No. 11 Maryland has managed to win 14 of its first 16 games despite having to navigate depth issues in its front court. Evan Smotrycz has struggled with health issues for a significant portion of the season, which at times has left head coach Mark Turgeon to rely on sophomore Damonte Dodd and freshman Michal Cekovsky in the paint.

While the Terrapins have been able to handle those issues, adding another body to the mix certainly wouldn’t hurt as they look to make a run at the Big Ten title in their first season as a member of the conference. Thursday evening the program made official the addition of 6-foot-9 freshman Ivan Bender, who previously played for KK Split in his native Croatia. The freshman is eligible to compete immediately for the Terrapins.

“We are excited to have Ivan join our program,” Turgeon said in a statement released by the school.  “He is terrific young man who will be a great addition to our team.”

How much of an impact Bender has remains to be seen, with the freshman being just over a year removed from a knee injury. But his addition gives Maryland another interior option to call upon, which is key when taking into consideration possible issues such as foul trouble and injuries.