The Texas Longhorns basketball team added some future front court depth with the addition of former Maryland Terrapins center Shaquille Cleare, who left Mark Turgeon's program in early April:
Big move outta Austin....Shaquille Cleare has transferred to Texas!!— Dain Ervin (@BIReports) April 24, 2014
The 6'9, 285-pounder had visited Austin in the last week and was recruited by the Horns out of high school, but did not receive an offer. Despite being born in the Bahamas, Cleare attended The Village School in Houston, the same high school attended by current Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.
A former four-star prospect by Rivals rated as the No. 53 player nationally, Cleare also held offers from Arizona, Baylor, Miami, South Florida, and Texas A&M before committing to Maryland in August of 2011. He's a member of the 2012 class and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after he sits out the coming season.
Cleare was a disappointment at Maryland based on his lofty recruiting rankings coming out of high school -- he averaged 3.7 points per game as a freshman and only 3.0 as a sophomore, playing less than 14 minutes per game in 2013-14. Free-throw shooting isn't one of his strengths either, as he shot less than 60% from the line both years.
There's probably some athletic upside left with Cleare, evident in this clip from AAU ball when he dunked over current Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel:
Here are some highlights from a game during his senior season at The Village:
Despite the potential shown in high school, Texas fans should probably temper their expectations -- the reasonable best-case scenario with Cleare may be that he develops into a capable role player who could play as many as 20 minutes per game.
His best game last season suggests his upside may not be any greater than that at this point, courtesy of Testudo Times:
His biggest impact performance came in arguably Maryland's biggest game of the year; the final ACC game against rival and highly ranked Virginia. While Cleare didn't stuff the stat sheets that game, he was able to provide valuable quality minutes while Charles Mitchell dealt with foul trouble the whole game. He played a season-high 26 minutes against the Cavaliers, scored five points, snagged five rebounds, managed to go 3-4 from the free throw line and was partially responsible for Akil Mitchell only putting up four points and four boards.
Even if he is merely a role player at Texas, Cleare could provide valuable minutes behind Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh during the 2015-16 season and would potentially have a chance to start the following year after the departures of those two players.
Since Ridley still isn't a quality NBA prospect, assuming that he sticks around for his senior season probably isn't too much of a stretch, which raises some questions about why Cleare would want to enter a situation in which there isn't a high potential for starting, but regardless, the Longhorns have increased their depth and perhaps could even get lucky if Cleare develops as much during the next year as Ridley did between his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Head coach Rick Barnes may not ask him to do much more than defend, block shots, rebound, and finish around the rim offensively and Cleare is probably capable of that.