As the crispness of the fall air approaches and an orange hue falls across the sky, the sound of basketball sneakers simultaneously squeak across the courts on college campuses around the country. The Maryland Terrapins, a hometown favorite, have a promising season ahead of them with depth and athleticism on their court.
As Maryland enters the season, there will be plenty of new faces in College Park. The Terps lost Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon to graduation. Diamond Stone and Robert Carter both left early for the NBA. But the centerpiece of Maryland’s teams the last two seasons, point guard Melo Trimble, returns. His presence, along with some strong returnees in the rotation and a solid freshman class, could put Maryland right back into the NCAA tournament conversation.
Although Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes was the only unanimous selection to the coaches’ poll preseason All-Big Ten team, fans cannot disregard Melo Trimble over here in College Park. The junior averaged 14.8 points, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals per contest last year for a Maryland team that fell to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. During the Terrapins’ three-game tournament run, Trimble put up 20 points per game, and at the end of the year, he was tabbed an AP Honorable Mention All-American. “Melo is easily the best player on that team,” junior Gabe Pollack said.
In case Trimble’s injuries he suffered in his sophomore season catch back up with him, the Terps will have two capable backups for Trimble in Jaylen Brantley and Anthony Cowan, a 247 Composite top 100 recruit.
Returning to the backcourt for this season is redshirt sophomore Dion Wiley, who missed last season due to a knee injury. Wiley averaged 4.1 points and 1.5 rebounds as a freshman and should take on a much larger role with the departure of Sulaimon. To step in and help Wiley out, new recruit freshman guard Kevin Huerter will be in the rotation right away. Huerter is a 247 Composite top 100 recruit and played for the FIBA Americas U18 gold medal team this past summer, and is more than qualified to take elite shots when needed. “Sulaimon is going to be a tough act to follow, but I have faith in Wiley,” sophomore Danny Rothenberg said.
Providing depth, more recruits have joined the Terps season to help out junior guard/forward Jared Nickens. Another set of 247Composite top 100 recruits for the Terps, Micah Thomas and Justin Jackson are eager to start their freshman seasons off on a high note. “The Terps did a great job recruiting this off season,” junior Sara Hodes said. “It’s been pretty impressive.”
If transfer students have the same record as Duke transfer Sulaimon did last year, L.G. Gill has a promising season ahead of him. This Duquesne transfer should provide experience in the frontcourt after averaging 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds last season.
Going into this season, the Terps have already locked up the position of forward with junior Michal Cekovsky and senior Damonte Dodd. In the post, Coach Mark Turgeon will have options with 7-foot-1 Cekovsky, 6-foot-11 Dodd and 6-foot-9 Joshua Tomaic, who signed late as a freshman. Dodd is the most experienced of the group and made 64 percent of his two pointers last season.
Bottom line is, this is just the beginning for the University of Maryland’s mens’ basketball team, led by Turgeon, who just signed a four-year contract extension. Trimble is already a headliner of the Maryland roster, but Turgeon clearly has a solid roster to work with behind him along with a favorable Big Ten schedule. Between returning players and new recruits, the Terps are expected to exceed expectations and have the ability to be one of the Big Ten’s surprise teams in the upcoming season.