A Follow-Up Shot

Basketball Standout Sulaimon Starts New Chapter at UMD
by Liam Farrell | photo by high impact photography

Rasheed Sulaimon just wants to get back on the basketball court, even if that means doing the scut work of diving after loose balls rather than taking heart-stopping shots at the buzzer.

This fall, the highly touted guard will reboot his athletic career in College Park, trading a blue jersey for red after being dismissed from Duke’s basketball program and deciding to use his final year of college eligibility for a Terp squad that could be a championship contender.

“I’m happy for this fresh start,” he says.

Raised in Houston by a Nigerian father and Jamaican mother, the high school All-American was a starter for the Blue Devils in his freshman season. He helped lead Duke to the Elite Eight in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, averaged 11.6 points per game and earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman and All-Academic teams. Sulaimon also made a mark on the international stage with USA Basketball, winning gold medals at the 2012 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship and the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship.

But Sulaimon saw his playing time and stats diminish as a sophomore and junior at Duke, as struggles on the court and a souring relationship with Coach Mike Krzyzewski off it led to his dismissal from the program in January.

Sulaimon, who finished his a sociology degree in August after just three years, says he had trouble handling the athletic challenges that came with a college basketball career and was “blindsided” when a sport that came so easily started being difficult.

The situation was complicated in March with reports accusing Sulaimon of sexual assault, although no charges were filed with the university or local police department. Duke has repeatedly declined to comment, citing student privacy laws, and Sulaimon, who always remained in good academic standing, has denied it.

Sulaimon plans to pursue a master’s degree at Maryland. He has known Head Coach Mark Turgeon since middle school, when he attended one of the coach’s basketball camps at Texas A&M.

“We knew the family, we knew the kid really well,” Turgeon says. “I thought he’d be a good fit for us.”

The basketball world has big expectations of Turgeon’s team this year. Besides adding Sulaimon, the Terps return key players like Jake Layman and Melo Trimble. Incoming blue-chip prospect Diamond Stone is another key addition to a team expected to be among the best in the country.

“I have to put my head down and do my best to be a great student-athlete at the University of Maryland,” Sulaimon says. “My head is clear right now.”


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