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Ashton Pankey enjoyed his visit to Houston. He liked everything Hofstra, Drexel and Rice had to offer. But when it came time to make a decision, to pick a place where he could spend the next four years of his life, the choice wasn’t necessarily tough.
It was Maryland all the way.
“I want to be a pro – it’s something I always dreamed about – and I think Maryland offered me the best opportunity to do that,” the Bronx native out of St. Anthony of Jersey City said. “[The ACC] is definitely the highest level of basketball. I believe it’s the best conference and I’m happy to be a part of that conference.”
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound senior verbally committed to Maryland and coach Gary Williams Monday morning and plans to sign a National Letter of Intent at a ceremony at St. Anthony on Tuesday that will include teammates Devon Collier (Oregon State), Derrick Williams (Richmond) and Eli Carter (St. Bonaventure). Pankey is the second high-profile city recruit in two years for Williams with former Lincoln star James Padgett being the other.
“He’s going to be playing with and against some of the best players in the country, he’s going to be playing for a Hall of Fame coach,” said Pankey’s AAU coach, Kimani Young of New Heights. “He’s going to have every opportunity to be successful.”
It makes sense that Pankey, known for rebounding and shot-blocking, would pick the New Jersey school to officially start the next phase of his life. He transferred to St. Anthony after two years at Archbishop Molloy, where he was the first freshman to play varsity since Kenny Anderson, and has grown since the move, off the court as much as on it. Under legendary coach Bob Hurley Sr., his grades have improved, as has his conditioning, strength and maturity.
“Ashton’s entre into the ACC is the fact that he can rebound,” recruiting guru Tom Konchalski said. “There are more finished offensive products than Ashton Pankey. I think his offense will improve, but he’s a guy that can rebound, and that’s one thing you can’t do too much of.”
The 36th-ranked power forward in the country according to Scout.com, Pankey enjoyed his visit to Maryland with his mother, Persuasion Branch, where he toured the sprawling campus. But he still wanted a comparison, so he went to Houston, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Just not enough to change his mind.
“In terms of academics and basketball, Maryland is the best fit for me,” Pankey said. “It was a big relief off my chest. The recruiting process is kind of frustrating. It’s like a dream come true. I always dreamed of playing at the highest level of basketball.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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