The one of a kind Jon Rothstein continued his annual summer tour on Sunday when he visited the beautiful Comcast Center to watch the new-look Maryland Terrapins practice. Here are his thoughts as I breakdown what this means for the upcoming season.
Coming into the offseason, I viewed Nickens as a long-term signing rather than an immediate contributor. However, as Nickens has displayed his shooting range and offensive explosiveness, I believed that Nickens maybe able to give Maryland solid contributions this year. Adding 11 pounds of muscle in a month, and this guy can give good minutes behind rising junior Jake Layman. Although Layman will be ready come opening game, it’s important for the staff to give him time to be 100%. With that, Nickens has more time to develop.
The “other guy” in this recruiting class in my mind, Wiley has a chance to become the sixth man for this team and provide deep range and great size at the guard spot. As we all know, Rothstein loves his comparisons, as sees Wiley as the next Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick, a 2014 graduate of Cincinnati, averaged 9.7 points per game as a freshman, but by his senior year averaged 20.6 points per game and became their biggest asset on offense. With Maryland’s young roster, Wiley has a chance to shine early, but coming off the bench gives him a chance to learn from guys like Dez Wells and Jake Layman. When I’ve watched him, I’ve questioned his consistent energy, but this guy has all the talent in the world. If the dedication is there, which I expect Turgeon to implement that in every freshman, Wiley will come together.
The Big Ten is not the ACC. There is no Virginia Tech or Wake Forest in this league as every team plays tough and smart, including Purdue and Northwestern. Maryland has the talent to beat the top teams in Ohio State and Michigan State, but the energy they bring against the top teams must be brought against the bottom-tier teams. If Maryland wants to make the tournament, the consistent motor is vital. That was a question with last year’s roster, but those guys have left and this team is poised for success.
This is similar to the 2012-13 season when Maryland brought in four freshman and transfer Dez Wells and had little time to gel together. This year, they all have a full summer to play together but the program is in the same position as they were two years ago. With six new guys on the roster in Trimble, Wiley, Nickens, Cekvosky, Reed and Pack, Maryland will have their “pull your hair out of your head” moments, but how a team starts is not how they finish. Learning and patience will dictate how the 2014-15 season goes.
I’m in full agreement that he is one of the steals in this class, and I’ll go as far to say that he is top five steals in the whole country. As it’s been said before, Cekovsky is not like Alex Len. Cekovsky has better footwork, but is similar in his offensive low post skills and runs the floor just as well. The Slovakian big man also played professionally, giving him even more experience. Maryland fans will learn just how good he is in due time and will help Maryland fans move past Charles Mitchell’s decision to transfer.
Barring more transfers and injuries, this should be the starting five. Cekovsky can make an immediate impact, but the fact that Dodd, who has had a full year in college, wasn’t mentioned made me questioned just how much he has developed thus far. Dodd will make his impact felt on defense and can still provide solid minutes, however. Nonetheless, this starting five gives me a lot of confidence that Maryland’s offense will be explosive and exciting to watch. The biggest question is whether the turnovers decrease, but with Trimble running the point, I expect better care of the basketball next year. Which brings me to my next point…
Trimble has huge shoes to fill with Allen’s departure, and he knows that. Trimble has spent the past year developing himself as a point guard and he has improved his decision making and ball handling skills. What has also improved is his range; this kid seems to have endless range and does a great job getting to the hoop, similar to Seth Allen. Nonetheless, he is arguably Maryland’s biggest recruit since Mike Jones. Maryland’s success will fall on him as the point guard and leader of the offense.
It looks like Pack will be the backup point guard with Wells being the primary ball-handler at times as well. In terms of Graham, I’ll never hate on a guy that works his tail off every play, but Graham will help provide more depth down low. Neither will give Turgeon twenty minutes every game, but when they’re in, their veteran experience will be heavily relied on for a young team.