Tur­geon signs on for 4 more years

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

The fact that Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball coach Mark Tur­geon had only three years re­main­ing on his orig­i­nal eight-year con­tract didn’t ap­pear to hurt him when he put to­gether his 2016 re­cruit­ing class, in­clud­ing the three play­ers he added after last sea­son ended.

Still, Tur­geon can now go into the homes of cur­rent re­cruits with a lit­tle more cer­tainty that he will be there for the en­tirety of their col­lege bas­ket­ball ca­reers. That much has been guar­an­teed by the con­tract ex­ten­sion Mary­land gave the 51-year-old coach.

Tur­geon, who has more wins (114) in his first five sea­sons at Mary­land than any other men’s bas­ket­ball coach in school his­tory, signed a four-year ex­ten­sion that will run through the 2022-23 sea­son.

The deal, an­nounced by the univer­sity Thurs­day, is worth a lit­tle more than $2.5 mil­lion an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to a copy of the con­tract ob­tained by The Bal­ti­more Sun through the Mary­land Pub­lic In­for­ma­tion Act.

The con­tract adds $425,000 in an­nual per­for­mance bonuses, in­clud­ing $50,000 each for win­ning a Big Ten Con­fer­ence reg­u­lar-sea­son and tour­na­ment ti­tle, $75,000 for reach­ing the Sweet 16 and $200,000 for win­ning a na­tional champi- on­ship. There is no buy­out in the ex­ten­sion.

The an­nounce­ment comes as Tur­geon is try­ing to lock down sev­eral play­ers for 2017, in­clud­ing four-star guard Dar­ryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph), and is re­cruit­ing for 2018, in­clud­ing Morsell’s team­mate, five-star for­ward Jalen Smith.

The ex­ten­sion comes after two straight NCAA­tour­na­ment ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing last year’s 27-9 team reach­ing the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.

It also comes after Tur­geon and his staff scram­bled last spring to put to­gether a top-10 re­cruit­ing class after get­ting fall com­mit­ments from just two play­ers, An-

thony Cowan Jr. and Kevin Huerter, and then los­ing four starters, in­clud­ing NBA rook­ies Jake Lay­man and Di­a­mond Stone.

Tur­geon signed four-star for­ward Justin Jack­son, three-star for­ward Micah Thomas and Span­ish for­ward Joshua To­maic.

“There’s no ques­tion, the play­ers and their fam­i­lies want to know if you’re go­ing to be here. They start count­ing the years left on the con­tract you have,” Tur­geon said in a phone in­ter­view Thurs­day. “It’s def­i­nitely a pos­i­tive for the re­cruit­ing and the sta­bil­ity within our pro­gram.”

Tom Huerter, who played col­lege bas­ket­ball at Siena, said his son Kevin, New York state’s reign­ing Mr. Bas­ket­ball, signed largely be­cause of Tur­geon and his staff.

“Mark and his staff were a very big part of Kevin’s de­ci­sion,” the el­der Huerter said in a phone in­ter­view Thurs­day. “Our be­ing com­fort­able with Mark coach­ing and lead­ing and teach­ing our son makes us very com­fort­able with Kevin be­ing six hours away from us.”

The news of the con­tract ex­ten­sion was a nice way for Huerter to start his ca­reer.

“From our per­spec­tive, we’re ex­tremely happy that Mark has signed a con­tract to be there for Kevin’s four years at Mary­land,” the el­der Huerter said. “Coach Tur­geon was a huge part of his de­ci­sion. The fact that he signed an ex­ten­sion not only shows he has the sup­port of the univer­sity but he’ll be there for Kevin’s en­tire ten­ure.”

Though some fans were dis­ap­pointed by the over­all per­for­mance of last year’s team — the Terps were picked to win the Big Ten and fin­ished tied for third, and some ex­perts, in­clud­ing ESPN’s Jay Bi­las, picked them to win the na­tional cham­pi­onship go­ing into the sea­son — Mary­land of­fi­cials clearly be­lieve Tur­geon has brought the pro­gram back to na­tional promi­nence.

“Mark has built a pro­gram that we are in­cred­i­bly proud of as he con­tin­ues to lead the great tra­di­tion that is Mary­land bas­ket­ball,” ath­letic di­rec­tor Kevin An­der­son said in a state­ment re­leased Thurs­day. “I am proud of the aca­demic and ath­letic suc­cess that the men’s bas­ket­ball team has achieved un­der Mark’s lead­er­ship the past five years.”

Said Tur­geon: “I’m grate­ful to Kevin An­der­son and [Mary­land pres­i­dent Wal­lace D.] Loh for be­liev­ing in me and giv­ing me the con­tract. I love be­ing the coach here.”

It wasn’t easy for Tur­geon to reach this point.

Hired from Texas A&Min May 2011 after fu­ture Hall of Famer Gary Wil­liams’ sud­den re­tire­ment, Tur­geon im­me­di­ately lost the ma­jor­ity of the in­com­ing re­cruit­ing class, in­clud­ing Justin An­der­son, who be­came a star at Vir­ginia and a first-round NBA draft pick.

Mary­land fin­ished 17-15 in Tur­geon’s first sea­son and again in his third after cen­ter Alex Len left fol­low­ing his sopho­more year to be­come the fifth over­all pick in the draft, then had five play­ers with re­main­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity trans­fer in the spring of 2014.

The ar­rival of point guard Melo Trim­ble a few months later helped res­ur­rect the pro­gram. Picked to fin­ish 10th in their first sea­son in the Big Ten, the Terps came in sec­ond at 14-4 and went 28-7 over­all be­hind Trim­ble and se­nior guard Dez Wells. Mary­land re­turned to the NCAA tour­na­ment for the first time in five years.

While last year’s team slumped the fi­nal month with an in­jured Trim­ble run­ning the point — the Terps lost six of their last 11 games after a 22-3 start — Tur­geon said he be­lieves the pro­gram is ready to make an­other run in the Big Ten this sea­son de­spite the turnover of the ros­ter and the rel­a­tive youth of the team.

“It gives them sta­bil­ity, it re­ally does,” ESPN an­a­lyst Dick Vi­tale said Thurs­day of the ex­ten­sion. “It brings back mem­o­ries of Gary Wil­liams. They have a coach, they like him, they be­lieve in him. He’s done a solid job. The guy’s a solid tac­ti­cian, he un­der­stands peo­ple and he knows how to get peo­ple to play.”

The body of work goes be­yond the bas­ket­ball court for Tur­geon.

“I’m proud of what my staff and the play­ers and I have ac­com­plished,” Tur­geon said. “We’ve won a lot of games. We’ve won 114 games, 55 the past two years, chang­ing leagues like we did and be­ing suc­cess­ful in the Big Ten the way we’ve done it.

“We’re grad­u­at­ing kids [all 10 with no el­i­gi­bil­ity left], we’ve got guys play­ing in the NBA. What the pro­gram looks like now and what the fu­ture looks like, I’m just re­ally proud of what we’ve ac­com­plished and hope­fully it’s just go­ing to get bet­ter.”

ROB CARR/GETTY IM­AGES

Mary­land coach Mark Tur­geon’s con­tract ex­ten­sion, an­nounced Thurs­day, is worth a lit­tle more than $2.5 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

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