Just as last season concluded, many thought that Maryland would be a favorite next year.
The additon of Rasheed Sulaimon has increased those odds tenfold.
After the 2014-15 season was in the books, coach Mark Turgeon made it perfectly clear that he was searching for a shooting guard to replace Dez Wells. Ironically, Wells came to the Terrapins with a somewhat checkered past.
Wells had a storied career at Maryland and helped usher in the program’s transition into the Big Ten conference. His senior leadership allowed the Terps to have one of the most special seasons in the school’s history, which also included making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.
In replacing Wells, Turgeon immediately hit the transfer market as Maryland was one of five finalists for former Drexel guard Damion Lee, who ultimately ended up committing to Louisville.
Then Sulaimon became a real option for the Terps.
Nearly every school was a suitor for Sulaimon, but the former Duke guard visited College Park this past weekend and the rest is history.
Sulaimon provides so much to the Maryland program heading into the 2015-16 season, which he’ll be immediately eligible for.
First of all, the Texas native slides right into Maryland’s starting lineup and gives even more depth to Turgeon’s bench. Sulaimon can be the starting shooting guard with the versatility to play on the wing as well.
Guard/forward Jared Nickens can come off the bench and add some instant firepower to the offense, which he did significantly during the 2014-15 season. Nickens averaged 6.1 points-per-game while shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc.
The commitment of Sulaimon also gives the Terps more of a well-rounded starting unit. Forward Jake Layman plays on the wing along with forward Robert Carter and center Diamond Stone in the frontcourt.
Sulaimon isn’t expected to be a top scoring option for Maryland, but will likely surpass his 7.5 ppg that he put up during his junior year in Durham. The former five-star recruit is a career 39.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc and adds another perimeter threat to the stable of such players that are already on the Terps roster.
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Sulaimon also excels on catch-and-shoot plays. When Maryland faced Duke on Jan. 26, 2013, he was absolutely lethal from the perimeter. The Texas native scored 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including connecting on six of his eight three-point shot attempts.
Sulaimon is so impressive in so many facets on the offensive end of the floor. He also has strong mid-range game, which can make him impossible to guard at times.
While Sulaimon is very effective three-point shooter, he is also an excellent ball-handler that excels in isolation, due to the fact that he is very shifty and utilizes crossovers to shake his defenders. He also has a very quick first step that he uses to explode by defenders and get to the rim. It also doesn’t hurt that Sulaimon was a 74.6 percent free-throw shooter during his three-year career at Duke.
His quickness also allows him to get out in transition and zoom past most defenders trying to derail his path to the basket.
As special a player as Sulaimon is on the offensive end, he’s a very talented defender. There’s several facets to being an effective defender and Sulaimon is very multi-dimensional.
Sulaimon is a very strong on-ball defender. His quickness allows him to stay in front of the players he’s guarding and play on top of them at times.
He also has a high basketball IQ on the defensive end and always seems to understand where he needs to position himself on the floor.
Plain and simple, Maryland is getting a very talented basketball player. While with the Terps, Sulaimon won’t expected to do quite as much as he was at Duke. While there, the Blue Devils didn’t have a Jahlil Okafor or a Tyus Jones that handled the bulk of the scoring load. In College Park, Sulaimon will be a very important piece that is surrounded by even more talent than he ever was in Durham.
While many Maryland fans will miss the theatrics of a player like Wells, they will definitely enjoy how functionally sound of a basketball player they are getting in Sulaimon.
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