There’s quite a bit of star power on the Maryland men’s basketball team this season.
However, center Damonte Dodd could be the biggest x-factor.
Maryland is slated to be one of the top teams in the college basketball world, which was evident when the USA Today coaches poll was released on Thursday. With non-conference matchups against Georgetown and North Carolina early in the season, this is a deep group that will be tested.
Despite losing forward Evan Smotrycz to graduation, the Terrapins frontcourt will consist of Robert Carter, Michal Cekovsky, Dodd, and Diamond Stone. Jake Layman could also see time as a stretch four if the situation arises throughout the season.
Many believe that Stone will step right into a starting role and produce for Maryland. However, as has been displayed in the past, centers have had a learning period once they’ve arrived on a college campus.
During the 2011-12 season, Alex Len was a freshman still trying to get the grasp of the American game after playing organized basketball in Ukraine. Physically, he was very raw, and was outclassed on several occasions during his first year in the ACC despite being a true seven-footer. He did still manage to average 6.0 points-per-game/5.4 rebounds-per-game/2.1 blocks-per-game.
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It was a similar case the following season with highly-touted freshman center Shaquille Cleare. Cleare was tabbed as the savior in the frontcourt for the Terps, but only eclipsed double-digit points four times and tallied six or more rebounds three times in his two years in College Park.
Cleare struggled to find any kind of consistency despite playing double-digit minutes in both seasons. For a guy of his stature, it was definitely concerning.
Some big men can figure it out right away, and others take time to make their mark at the collegiate level.
After a season of limited playing time, Dodd was a significant piece to Maryland’s success last season. As the team’s starting center, the Centreville, Md. native averaged 4.0 ppg/3.8 rpg/1.5 bpg in 15.9 minutes-per-game.
Dodd wasn’t really expected to score a ton as the Terps relied heavily on the likes Jake Layman, Melo Trimble, and Dez Wells for that. He was expected to be a rim-protector that could defend the paint and alter shots.
Dodd blocked multiple shots in 12 games last season, including eight rejections against Valparaiso and West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament.
He came to College Park as a very raw specimen, but coach Mark Turgeon has worked his magic on the 6’11 center.
If for some reason, Stone isn’t ready to be the player that every basketball analyst expects him to be, Dodd will be right there to pace the frontcourt for Maryland. The junior big man is a very smart player that only fouled out of three games during the 2014-15 campaign.
As was mentioned above, Dodd has an extremely large frame that allows him to control the paint and make opposing players think twice about driving into the lane. Even though Dodd is a fierce shot blocker, he’s also capable of scoring the basketball as well.
Dodd can drive the basketball very effectively for a big man. His large frame allows him to get to the rim, and his athleticism allows him to finish plays.
Even if Stone is the star big man that Maryland fans have yearned for since Len left, Dodd is going to be integral to the team’s success. Whether it’s as a starter or off the bench, Dodd could be a huge x-factor.