With the college basketball season set to begin, we’re rolling out our position previews for Maryland men’s basketball with the frontcourt up first:
The 2014-15 season was an extremely surprising one for the Terrapins. For a team that wasn’t expected to make a ton of noise in their inaugural Big Ten campaign, Maryland had a banner year. Coach Mark Turgeon led the Terps to a 28-7 season with a 14-4 mark in the Big Ten. It seemed as though all of the fruits of Turgeon’s labor finally fell into place. After a mind-blowing six players elected to transfer out of the program in the offseason, Turgeon put all of his faith in freshman point guard Melo Trimble. It proved to be a phenomenal gamble as the former Bishop O’Connell (Va.) star took the conference and the nation by storm en route to All-Big Ten honors and one of the most memorable seasons by a Maryland freshman in quite some time. Trimble ended up averaging 16.2 points-per-game to go along with 3.9 rebounds-per-game and 3.0 assists-per-game. Combine Trimble’s sensational season with the acumen of senior Dez Wells and this was a talented backcourt and a team to be reckoned with.
As for the frontcourt, Maryland had quite a few pieces that were expected to contribute. However, it was unclear exactly how productive they would be. It all started in the middle with center Damonte Dodd. Dodd, who didn’t play a ton of minutes as a freshman, was Maryland’s true rim protector. Despite only playing 15.9 minutes-per-game, the Eastern Shore native still registered 1.7 blocks-per-game for the Terps. For a majority of the season, forward Jake Layman started alongside Dodd due to the fact that Turgeon used a backcourt that included, Richuad Pack, Trimble, and Wells. Layman causes a lot of trouble as a stretch four due to mismatch problems. Michal Cekovsky and Evan Smotrycz also played big minutes for Maryland.
This season is going to be very different. This is a team that has a ton of depth in the frontcourt. This is definitely going to be a strength of the team with center Diamond Stone anchoring the paint. Stone is one of the most heralded big men to come to College Park in quite some time. Maryland has a storied tradition of producing top-notch post players, including the likes of Len Bias, Len, Elmore, and Joe Smith. Stone is a McDonald’s All-American that could be a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The Wisconsin native scored a team-high 16 points (6-of-9 from the field) and grabbed five rebounds in Maryland’s 91-55 win over Southern New Hampshire in Friday’s exhibition game. Stone is a very athletic big man that can run the floor very well. He is also an excellent finisher at the rim, which means that Maryland will get a lot more offensive production from the center position this season.
Forward Robert Carter will finally be eligible for the Terps. Carter transferred from Georgia Tech to Maryland shortly after Charles Mitchell announced his intentions to leave the program. Maryland’s new forward will likely spend a lot of his time at the four along with Layman. Depending on what type of lineup Turgeon goes with, Layman could be on the wing with Carter being the starting power forward. Carter is a very capable power forward that possesses great size and supreme athleticism. He also can shoot from the perimeter, which is an area that Maryland already excels in.
Cekovsky should also see a solid amount of minutes in the frontcourt. Cekovsky didn’t play a ton as a freshman, but showed a tremendous amount of promise. He averaged 2.6 ppg and 2.5 rpg for the Terps, including 18 games in which he saw double-digit minutes. Cekovsky is a big-time post player that has a knack for finishing at the rim. Maryland’s depth in the post the past two seasons has certainly benefited the Slovakian big man. Last season, Cekovsky played behind the likes of Dodd, Layman, and Smotrycz. In the upcoming season, he’ll likely play behind Carter and Stone, which will give him even more opportunities to learn.
Who Will Start
Maryland’s frontcourt is very deep. It would make the most sense for Stone to be the team’s starting center and Carter play the power forward spot, due to his athleticism and length. Layman will likely move down to the small forward spot and fill in at power forward at times, depending on what type of lineup Turgeon has on the floor. Dodd should command a solid amount of minutes, which takes a lot of the pressure off of Stone. This is more talent than Maryland has had in a long time in the frontcourt. Turgeon certainly has a ton of pieces he can play with here, so the lineup combinations are vast.
This is one of the most complete teams in the Big Ten, if the entire nation. With that being said, the offensive numbers of some players may not be incredibly high due to the amount of firepower that Maryland has. I’ll list my predictions for each player’s season statistics below.
Diamond Stone – 12.5 ppg/7.8 rpg/1.5 bpg
Robert Carter – 10.2 ppg/6.3 rpg/1.2 bpg
Damonte Dodd – 3.5 ppg/3.8 rpg/1.7 bpg
Jake Layman – 13.5 ppg/4.8 rpg/1.8 apg