Former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon announced on Monday that he will continue his college career at Maryland. If he finishes his undergraduate requirements this summer and graduates from Duke, he will be eligible immediately.
And thus completes a spring that could not have gone any better for Mark Turgeon or the Terps. Not only did Melo Trimble, a potential all-american point guard, return for his sophomore season, but Maryland landed a commitment from top ten recruit Diamond Stone and got wing Jake Layman back for his senior season. All that came after they avoided an upset at the hands of Valpo in the opening round of the NCAA tournament thanks to this no-call. The only real question mark heading into the 2015-16 season, if there was one, was at the off-guard spot, and that’s no longer an issue with Sulaimon entering the fray.
Maryland could very well end up being the preseason No. 1 team in the country when those polls are released in the fall. As of today, we have Maryland at No. 2 in the country with the addition of Sulaimon.
And that will surely be a point of contention for some.
Let me explain.
Sulaimon’s career never took off the way many expected in Durham. After a strong freshman campaign, averaging 11.6 points, that had the former McDonald’s All-American considering a jump to the NBA, Sulaimon struggled the last two years as he failed to find a way to fit into a role on the Duke roster. In late-January of 2015, Sulaimon became the first player to ever be dismissed from the Duke program in Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure.
That dismissal came a month before The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, published a story that claimed two female students had accused Sulaimon of sexually assaulting them while hinting that the investigation into those accusations played a role in Sulaimon’s dismissal. No allegations were ever filed with Duke’s Office of Student Conduct or the Durham police, and Sulaimon strongly and publicly denied the accusations in an interview last month.
In other words, not only Sulaimon was never formally charged, he was never formally accused of sexual assault. Sulaimon told ESPN that he was investigated and cleared by Duke’s Office of Student Conduct after they received word of the claims, which were made at a group retreat during Sulaimon’s sophomore year. Both Sulaimon and the Duke program have stressed that his dismissal had everything to do with, as Coach K put it, Sulaimon’s inability to “consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program,” and nothing to do with the sexual assault allegations. And after his dismissal from the basketball team, he has remained in school, on track to graduate in August.
That doesn’t sound like Duke believes Sulaimon to be a sexual predator, and that means the onus is on Maryland to determine whether or not they are comfortable allowing him to spend a year on their campus.
“We did our due diligence,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon told ESPN.com. “We were extremely thorough and talked to a lot of people and vetted the entire situation.”
You can be sure they did.
Maryland accepted Dez Wells, who was an all-conference guard for the Terps, as a transfer three years ago after Wells was accused of sexual assault at Xavier and expelled from the university. Wells denied those accusations, and had a county prosecutor back him up. He filed a lawsuit against the university over his expulsion and settled out of court a year ago. You can also bet that the university is well aware of what happened at Oregon last year, when Brandon Austin, who was accused of sexual assault at Providence before leaving the school, was again accused of sexual assault after arriving on the Eugene campus.
Maryland knows the risks associated with bringing in a player that has this hanging over his head.
And if they’re comfortable with it, if they did their homework and believe what Sulaimon is saying, then I have a hard time being outraged by this decision.