Diamond Stone is a massive player at 6’10” and 270lbs, with a similarly large sized skill set in the post. He immediately changed the orientation of Maryland’s team this year with his commitment, due in large part to his ability to score on the blocks. He has a well developed set of post moves and the size and strength to clear out and hold space down low. As with many big kids, he’ll need to improve his conditioning and learn to play with more consistent levels of effort all the time, rather than in spurts, but he will be a major impact guy immediately for this team, no question.
Jaylen Brantley is a 5’10” JUCO point guard who fills a major need as well for the Terps, though it’s not as obvious or as large a role as the one Stone will be occupying. The West Virginia game made manifest the problem Maryland has when Trimble is off the court or ineffective, as they had no true backup at the point. Brantley should solve that problem. He’s got good quickness and is seen as a guy who also shoots well enough to be able to play at times alongside Trimble off the ball. He’s a big addition and especially if Maryland’s roster remains intact, I can see him playing in the mid-high 20s minutes-wise.
Maryland isn’t standing pat yet, though. They have several scholarship slots available. They pursued Baltimore native Damion Lee, a fine off guard from Drexel who elected to go with Louisville instead. It’s surfaced over the last day or so that they’re one of the schools interested in former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon. That’s a thorny issue. Sulaimon can play, about that there’s little doubt, and he’d give Maryland another high caliber wing, something they’re in shorter supply of this season. However, he had lots of trouble in Durham including a sexual assault charge. He denied the charges in public for the first time yesterday and I’m not about to speculate as to whether this did or did not happen, what his punishment should be, etc. Now, Dez Wells faced a similar situation at Xavier but eventually Wells actually settled a lawsuit against Xavier around their expulsion of him based on what he claimed was a false charge (no formal charges in the legal system were ever filed by the other party involved and a grand jury elected not to indict Wells either). These are different circumstances and one doesn’t mean much of anything in relation to the other except that Turgeon has proven willing to take a risk before. Will he do so again? There’s no guarantee Maryland would get Sulaimon even if they are willing to take him…a bunch of other programs have also been mentioned. However, given availabilty of playing time on a contending team, I think they’d have a shot. If he came to College Park, it makes a strong team that much stronger.
OVERALL – For now, we’ll assume the current roster is what Maryland will actually have at its disposal come November. It’s a very good one, no question. In Trimble and Layman you have proven big time contributors in this program. Carter has done the job at the ACC level. Stone is as good a big man prospect as there was in the 2015 class. That’s a great place to start.
As I look at this team, though, the question of wing play does arise. Layman is a fine player but he’s not a pure wing. I expect he’ll play that spot more frequently than last year, when he swung between the 3 and the 4. The bigger issue is that there’s no obvious replacement for Wells. He was hugely important to this team’s success a season ago. His aggression, toughness and clutch play was a big factor in how well they did and I don’t see an obvious replacement for that. I think Wiley could become more of that type of player down the line but he hasn’t shown he’s ready to play near that level and in that style just yet. Nickens is a fine shooter and may progress into something more but again…can’t count on that now.
Any team with Maryland’s qualities has to be taken seriously as a conference and national contender and I do. They’re much, much better inside than last year and should be even better at the point with Trimble a year older and the addition of quality depth in Brantley. This was a pretty good defensive team last season and they should be good again. They can use improvement on the glass (should be better with all the new size) and in the turnover department, where they had issues. They’re very close with MSU and IU in terms of what I see…I give MSU a slight, slight edge but it’s truly a tossup on paper.