This is Part II of the “What If Terrence Ross attended Maryland” article. You can find Part I here.
This what-if breaks into two sections. As mentioned earlier, I think this situation had a bigger impact on Gary Williams then Jordan Williams did. Terrence Ross continued his stellar progress and left Washington after his sophomore year, and was drafted tenth overall to Toronto in the NBA Draft. So far in the league, he has won the 2013 NBA Slam Dunk contest. Then there is the on court section, along with the off court part of this what if scenario.
On the court, the class of 2010 would have been one of Gary Williams best classes based off of rankings. The final ESPN Top 100 had Terrence Ross (#30), Mychal Parker (#45), and Terrell Stoglin (#97). Their freshman year would have had them alongside Seniors Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker, and Dino Gregory/ Junior Sean Mosley/ and Sophomores Jordan Williams and James Padgett. The team had a solid core of players, but adding three dynamic guards would have greatly improved the team. Bowie and Tucker struggled to lead the team and to run the offense efficiently. Neither was fully confident in themselves, which made Stoglin a great addition to the team because he has never seen a shot he didn’t like. The size of Ross and his shooting range would have helped a team that featured no three-point shooters. The 2010-2011 season saw the made three-point streak come to an end, when as a team Maryland did not make a three pointer at Georgia Tech. The addition of Ross would have changed this flaw in the team. Teams knew they could sit back in a zone and prevent passing lanes to Jordan Williams since no one could consistently shoot from deep. The Terps finished the season 19-14 (7-9) and missed out on the NCAA Tournament. There are a couple of notable close games that with the addition of Terrence Ross, Maryland could have won and improved their chances at the NCAA Tournament:
2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden
#4 Pittsburgh 79-70 and the next game #16 Illinois 80-76
BB&T Classic vs Temple 64-61
Both games against Boston College: 79-75 (@MD) and 76-72 (@BC)
The two vs Boston College make the Terps a 9-7 team in the ACC, and mixed with one of the other games bumps them to 22-11 and a notable non-conference win. Clemson, for example, finished the season 22-11 (9-7) and made the tournament as a last four team in. Clemson’s best non-conference win was over Seton Hall in overtime and in conference they never beat Duke or North Carolina. Maryland with the same record but a non-conference win over #16 Illinois at the Garden, would have jumped Clemson into the NCAA Tournament.
Having Ross and Stoglin returning, along with adding top 100 recruit, Nick Faust, the next year could have been enough to convince Jordan Williams to return to Maryland. The team would have been a threat to finish in the top four of the ACC. Coach Williams could have experimented with four guard line-ups of Ross, Stoglin, Parker, Faust, and J. Williams. This would have gone nicely with the more typical line up of Ross, Stoglin, Parker, Padgett, and J. Williams. With role players, Hawk Palsson, Alex Len, and Sterling Gibbs, Maryland could have made another run to the NCAA Tournament.
Off the court, Gary Williams had been criticized for his recruiting ability. The class of 2010 would have done a lot to silence the critics, especially after winning the ACC in 2010. Making the NCAA Tournament would have kept the Athletic Department happy, especially as Gary continued his recruiting surge with Shaq Cleare and Justin Anderson. While Gary did not want to play the shoe company and AAU game, with the help of assistant coach Bino, he would have continued to build up talented rosters, while avoiding the part of the game he disliked.
Instead, Gary saw the cornerstone of his 2010 class taken in political struggle of shoe company dominance. Ross at Maryland would have almost certainly locked him as an Under Armour player once he entered the league as the tenth overall pick. Nike, losing out on a top player, from their backyard to a former school of theirs would have been a blow to their ego. Especially when Ross won the 2013 NBA Slam Dunk contest, while wearing Under Armour sneakers. Ross’s decommitment symbolized the new era of college basketball, and one that Coach Williams did not want to be a part. He had a tough time already competing with the top programs for players, going up against handlers and shoe companies as well made staying competitive tough for the older coach.
Gary Williams last season in college basketball ended in a disappointing 19-14 record and no postseason birth. Coach Williams had a built a roster of under the radar recruits with a chip on their shoulder, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the new wave of college basketball teams. Jordan Williams declared for the NBA Draft, and Coach Williams left Maryland shortly after. Maybe it was better that it happened. I love Gary as much as the next guy, but with Coach Mark Turgeon we have seen a different attitude towards recruiting. Young and not afraid at taking risk, Turgeon has led Maryland recruiting into uncharted territory. As fans, we needed a change, the past we longed for is gone, and Coach Turgeon appears to be the guy to lead us to the future. I was as upset as the next guy when Ross decommitted, but he might have only been able to lead us to couple more NCAA Tournament 2nd round exits. With Coach Turgeon we look poised for Final Four run sooner rather than later.