When Melo Trimble announced he was returning for his junior campaign, the Maryland basketball team instantly became a lot more dangerous.
The Terrapins now have the option to play Trimble off the ball more with freshman Anthony Cowan being the primary ball-handler. The move gives the team a ton of versatility in the backcourt.
Over the past two seasons, Trimble has spent a large amount of the time as Maryland’s point guard. As a freshman, the former Bishop O’Connell (Va.) star logged nearly 34 minutes per night since the Terps didn’t have a suitable backup.
During the 2015-16 season, Jaylen Brantley saw time as the backup floor general, but didn’t play a significant amount of minutes. Trimble was still forced to play nearly 33 minutes a night, even when he appeared to be injured.
The addition of Cowan takes a ton of the pressure off of Trimble’s shoulders.
As a junior, Trimble won’t have to worry about running the offense and scoring the basketball at will. If Cowan appears as advertised, he should be able to be the primary ball-handler a large chunk of the time, which will allow Trimble to score at will.
While Cowan is known for his tremendous court vision and ability to be a floor general, he also can score the basketball at a high rate. During his senior year at St. John’s College (D.C.), Cowan averaged 20.6 points and led the Cadets to their first WCAC title since 2000.
His game is very similar to Trimble’s as he gets to the free throw line quite often.
As a senior, Cowan connected on 196 of his 238 (83.1 percent) of his attempts from the charity stripe. Trimble shot 86.3 percent from the free throw line as a freshman at Maryland.
Cowan also knocked down 81 threes during his senior season with the Cadets. On the other hand, Trimble made 61 long-range shots during the 2014-15 campaign.
Even with Cowan and Trimble likely being the starters, coach Mark Turgeon still has plenty of options in the backcourt.
Dion Wiley is making his way back from a torn meniscus that cost him an entire season. Four-star freshman Kevin Huerter also figures to see significant minutes and looks to be in midseason form while he trains for his Team USA U18 tryout this summer.
Huerter (6’6) and Wiley (6’4) have tremendous size, so both could slide down to the small forward position depending on what type of lineup Turgeon elects to go with. In that case, Brantley could get minutes at the point if Cowan or Trimble need a breather.
While it’s not a certainty that Cowan starts, it’s a pretty likely scenario. The starting five that would make the most sense is Cowan, Trimble, Wiley, Justin Jackson, and Damonte Dodd.
That lineup would also take a great deal of the pressure off Huerter as a freshman.
Maryland did lose a significant amount of talent with 80 percent of last year’s starting lineup departing. However, Turgeon has assembled an extremely talented and versatile group to help absorb the blow.
If the highly-touted freshmen are as advertised, this is a group that is going to make a lot of noise in the Big Ten.