Along with the rest of the Big Ten, the Maryland basketball team descended upon Washington D.C. for the conference’s annual Media Day.
It was the first time that the conference has been in the Nation’s Capital for Media Day since Maryland joined in 2014.
The Terrapins lost four starters from last year’s group that reached the Sweet 16 before ultimately losing to Kansas. However, star point guard Melo Trimble returns to the program for his junior season.
It’s also a team that has some very talented incoming players that should contribute right away.
Coach Mark Turgeon spoke about these topics and many more throughout Media Day. Here’s our takeaways from Thursday’s festivities.
1.) Dion Wiley is a huge part of this team
Wiley played a large role off the bench as a freshman, but missed the entire 2015-16 season with a torn meniscus.
When the injury occurred, Turgeon talked about how big of a loss it was. It really hurt Maryland’s guard rotation and forced guys like Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon to play extended minutes a lot of the time.
“Dion was a really good freshman for us,” Turgeon said. “It was a big blow for us last year when he went down and no one wanted to believe me when I said that. It’s been a long road and a long recovery. I’d say Dion is about 85-90 percent right now. He’s got his weight at a good spot.”
During his time at Potomac (Md.), Wiley was a highly-regarded three-point shooter that could be downright deadly. He was a consensus top 100 player and as crazy as it sounds, he appears to be a completely different player as a redshirt sophomore.
“He’s a really good player,” Turgeon added. “He’s evolved. He’s become a better defender. He’s got really good point guard skills. With the ball in his hands, he’s a terrific player. He’s one of our better passers and better players off of ball screens.”
Wiley is a guy who has really worked hard to get back and really worked on his game. He’ll likely be the starting two-guard for this team and should really take a lot of pressure off of Trimble.
2.) This incoming class is going to be really good
Turgeon has brought in some pretty impressive recruits during his time in College Park.
However, the 2016 class may be the most talented he’s ever had.
Four-star recruits Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson will all play immediately for the Terps. That certainly should help to offset the loss of four starters from a season ago.
“Cowan can dictate the game defensively and pick up full-court,” Turgeon said. “He gives Melo fits in practice. He’s a tremendous player and can push it. Huerter can flat-out shoot it and he has a great feel passing the ball. He’s getting better defensively.”
With Trimble only having a maximum of two years left at Maryland, getting a top-flight floor general has essential. Cowan is a very versatile guard that can score at will while also being a very strong facilitator.
Forward Justin Jackson will also contribute in a big way and Turgeon even compared him to Jake Layman. He added that the Terps could use Jackson as a stretch four much like they did with Layman at times throughout his career.
Out of the three, Jackson appears the most likely to start based on depth at the position. Cowan and Huerter should be two of the top options off the Maryland bench.
3.) Small ball lineups could be more frequent
We already touched on Wiley, but his loss affected the team in another way last season.
It limited Maryland from running a guard-heavy lineup at times.
With the amount of incoming talent, Turgeon is probably going to elect to use three or four guards on the floor at times. Even with three guards, sprinkle in Jackson as a stretch four and that’s a ton of athleticism.
Huerter and Jackson also have a very large wingspan, so that’ll help from a defensive standpoint.
It would make sense for Turgeon to want to get Cowan on the floor as much as possible. If Trimble did elect to stay in the NBA Draft this past summer, Cowan would be very capable of running point.
This is a very exciting group of guards for Maryland basketball. That certainly doesn’t take anything away from Sulaimon, who had a phenomenal year last season.