So now that the Jin Soo Choi era is officially over at Maryland, it's time to break down the actually large number of questions left as he departs.
1. How does this affect Maryland's rotation?
Not a whole lot, at least not this year. If James Padgett's minutes were substantially reduced with the return of Dino Gregory, then Choi's vanished altogether. He had seven points in 44 minutes over nine games. In terms of on-court production, this won't hurt a ton. Choi didn't appear to be a likely contributor for much the rest of the season.
2. How does this affect Maryland on a day-by-day basis?
This is more complex. With Choi gone and Steve Goins perennially ailing, the Terps are down to 11 men overall and only nine who were recruited as scholarship players. Maryland is just an injury away from needing to use every available player to conduct five-on-five work during practice. That's not a whole lot of wiggle room, because there's always a good chance for a random twisted ankle or stomach virus to shelve someone for a few days during the conference season.
3. Who gets Choi's minutes?
There weren't many to go around, but the guess is Padgett is the most likely beneficiary. After that, maybe David Pearman gets an occasional look, much as Jason McAlpin did a couple seasons ago.
4. Can the Terps fill Choi's scholarship?
No earlier than next season, obviously, since Choi will count against this year's count. But as of now, Maryland will have three seniors (Adrian Bowie, Dino Gregory and Cliff Tucker), two juniors (Steve Goins and Sean Mosley) and two sophomores (Padgett and Jordan Williams) who were recruited as scholarship players. Given Goins' frequent injuries, it's far from impossible the Terps would have only six holdovers.
Maryland added Terrell Stoglin, Mychal Parker and Ashton Pankey in the fall signing period, and Pe'Shon Howard committed over the weekend. Even if Pearman stays on scholarship, there's at least one scholarship left, if not two. It's probably safe to say Maryland will add at least one more guy to its class. Who will it be? Ask someone who knows much more about recruiting than me.
5. Is this a stain for Maryland?
Someone will probably make it out to be, but this shouldn't be perceived as the same sort of blows as the program has taken in other cases in recent years. In a perfect world, Maryland wouldn't have rushed Choi in a year early, and that might have smoothed out the clearinghouse headaches the program dealt with and given Choi some extra time to adapt to life in the U.S. And in an ideal situation, an ultra-thin small forward who had no business playing in the low post wouldn't have been asked to play the four.
On the other side of things, from all indications Choi struggled to pick up English, which wouldn't have been a problem at a school that wasn't located in an English-speaking country. There's plenty of students at Maryland (and other universities) who scuffle through an introductory Spanish or French class to satisfy a requirement, then forget most of what they learned as quickly as possible. Choi didn't have that option.
I talked with Choi two or three times in the last couple seasons, and he seemed like a well-meaning fellow who enjoyed basketball. It was also clear he wasn't entirely comfortable delving into English, and there was an obvious language barrier --- just like there would have been for me if I suddenly had to start writing in Korean for a newspaper in Seoul.
So it was a gamble on Maryland's part to roll the dice on a skinny small forward and bump him up a spot. It was a gamble on Choi's part to come stateside and see if he could survive despite the communications issues. Neither gamble paid off, but far more flummoxing things have happened in College Park in recent years to make this into a huge issue.