The Manhattan Jaspers picked up a key addition on Friday when 6’9″ sophomore forward Ashton Pankey decided to join Steve Masiello’s team. The transfer from Maryland is coming to Manhattan after picking the Jaspers over Iona and Fordham.
Pankey, who is originally from the Bronx, came home so he could be closer to his mother, Persuasion. The situation seems similar to that of Momo Jones’ last season for Iona, so there’s a good chance Pankey will get a waiver that will allow him to play immediately for the Jaspers.
Whether that’s definite might not be known for a while still, but the addition of Pankey would seal the Jaspers into the MAAC’s upper tier along with Loyola (MD) in what should be another exciting season. Pankey seems confident that his new team has what it takes, telling Sean Brennan of the New York Daily News:
Absolutely. From what I hear, Manhattan had the best chance to win the MAAC without me. Now that I’m coming in and I can try and put them over the top and get us to the NCAA tournament.
While it’s not a given if he’ll play next season, Pankey is a perfect fit for Masiello’s system. If there’s anything to be gleamed from Pankey’s 17 starts last season for the Terrapins, it’s that he’s an elite rebounder and shot blocker. Those two skills happen to be the easiest to translate into the Jaspers’ trapping system.
Pankey’s rebounding rates from last season at Maryland were amongst the best in the nation with a 10.1% offensive rebounding percentage (314th) and 17.1% (431st) defensive rebounding percentage. He also had a block rate of 2.8%, which ranked in the Top 500 players in college basketball. Another positive for Pankey is that he didn’t turn the ball over much, though he also didn’t use very many possessions offensively.
Both of those rebounding numbers would’ve put Pankey third on the Jaspers and Pankey put up his numbers against ACC competition. It’s safe to assume that with his big body those skills will transfer to the MAAC where he’ll often physically dominate the competition. Strong hands in the paint would also be a welcome change from the high turnover rates of many of Manhattan’s frontcourt players last season.
We’ll know more about Pankey’s status in a few months — the NCAA isn’t exactly quick, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on as his transfer is going to have a big impact on the MAAC next season.