At times, Mosley seemed Syracuse's to lose.
There were circumstances conspiring to keep Sean Mosley from being a Terp – Baltimore basketball’s Big East fondness, and perhaps some long-lingering ill will. There also was UM's impressive corps of young guards to challenge him for playing time. But it's a new day in Terps recruiting, and the staff forged ahead, its work culimating last week in a pledge from the St. Frances Academy star.
At times, Maryland seemed an unlikely landing spot for the 6-3 wing player. Clearly, he was fascinated with Syracuse, which has the built-in advantage of having a star alum – Carmelo Anthony – associated with Team Melo, the summer travel program for which Mosley has starred. Last summer, in fact, it seemed quite likely he would be following his good friend and Team Melo teammate, McDonald’s All-American Donte Green, to the frozen tundra of Central New York.
Fortunately for the Terps, though, Mosley has never been one to shrink away from a challenge or a decline a tough decision.
“That’s just Sean,” said Team Melo coach Darrell Corbett. “Wherever he chose was going to be the right fit. If he picked Maryland, then Maryland was the fit for Sean Mosley.”
And then there was Mosley’s father, Richard Mosley Sr., who never kept his preference quiet. While many parents of highly sought recruits play the diplomatic role, the elder Mosley was willing to tell anyone who wanted to listen how desperately he wanted his son to be a Terp. Shortly after moving to Baltimore in 1973, he’d fallen in love with the Terps thanks to Lefty Driesell, Tom McMillen, Len Elmore and Albert King.
His passion for Maryland has evolved over the years, during the course of which he has become a fervent admirer of Gary Williams.
“The decision was his, but I told him that if he wanted to go somewhere else, he was going to have to sit down and list the things the other schools have that Maryland doesn’t have,” said Mosley Sr., who takes joy in reminiscing about the days of Tom McMillen, Len Elmore and Albert King.
But there was still a rap in Baltimore that the Terps weren’t exactly relentless in their pursuit of the city’s best players. Maryland’s staff was working against that, along with perhaps some bad feelings that still have not washed away more than 18 years after Baltimore native Bob Wade was fired as Terps coach after a brief, controversial tenure.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Wade factor is a conclusion I have come to, and one to which some others – not including Mosley Sr. -- have given credence. The elder Mosley did not want to get into specifics, but he did say: “The only thing that could deter [Maryland] was outside forces getting in his head. But we didn’t allow that to happen.
“I had to step up as a father and say, ‘Not my kid. You can use your kid to carry that on.”
Both Carlton Carrington and Darrell Corbett, Mosley’s coaches with Team Melo, said there is no pressure for any of their players to attend Syracuse. They also said they haven’t heard any negative buzz about Wade and Maryland for years now. Both have always come off to me honest, and both seemed to be sincere.
“It’s not really an affiliation [between Team Melo and Syracuse]. My kids can play wherever they want,” said Carrington, who predicts Mosley’s jersey will some day hang in the rafters at Comcast Center. “It’s a great situation for Sean.”
It also helped that Maryland’s staff includes an emerging powerhouse recruiter in assistant coach Chuck Driesell, and a Baltimore legend in former Maryland star Keith Booth, whose name carries weight in Charm City. When Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who presented the only real competition for Sean’s services and was a regular at St. games, seemed to be inching toward a possible commitment, Richard Mosley gave marching orders to Driesell and Booth.
“You’ve got your biggest cheerleader in Sean’s living room,” said the former Army drill sargeant, “but you just have to do your part.”
So Booth and Driesell turned up the heat, along with plenty of help from Williams, and the payoff came last week in the form of Mosley’s commitment.
“That’s a testament to Maryland. They came in with a lot of ground to make up. Keith and Chuck came in and made it up. They made the kid feel like, hey, Syracuse is a great school, but we’re Maryland. We’ve got a national title, too. We’ve got pros, too.”
In Mosley, Maryland is getting a hard-nosed, powerful, city-style baller who will play on the wing. He has a nice stroke from outside and possesses sneaky athleticism, but his foremost value is in his versatility and intrepid approach. He doesn’t back down, and he’s not afraid to mix it up in the paint. He’s a utility man, despite being listed as a shooting guard.
“I think I’ll be more of two-three, but if Gary Williams wants me to run the point, I can do that too,” Sean Mosley said.
Mosley is on track to qualify with little problem, his father said. In fact, he’s on pace to have an extra core credit. So there are no worries about him suiting up next year. And any worries he had about whether or not to become a Terp, well, they disintegrated when Booth forced home his biggest selling point.
“Maryland will always be there for you,” Mosley recalled Booth telling him, “even after the ball stops bouncing.”