With the 2017-2018 Maryland basketball season only a few short months away, it is important to get familiar with some of the new faces that will grace our TV screens.
The Terps, after a disappointing first round exit in the NCAA Tournament at the hands of the Xavier, went into the offseason with a lot of uncertainty. Now that the dust has settled, it has become more clear who will be seeing the floor this upcoming season.
Aside from Melo Trimble, Maryland had a small graduating class as they only lost center Damonte Dodd and forward LG Gill.
The loss of Dodd is tough considering the lack of depth at the center position, but not insurmountable. Dodd struggled throughout his career at Maryland and became more of a defensive presence rather than an offensive threat.
Gill was an important role player for the Terps as he averaged 12.7 minutes and 3.5 points. However, he was more of a leader off the court than he was a force on it.
Guard Jaylen Brantley’s decision to leave the school and transfer to UMass was initially a shock. As the Terps move forward with Anthony Cowan and a plethera of other young talent, it makes sense that he would want to spend his final year of eligibility somewhere where he can shine and play more meaningful minutes.
The effects of the loss of Trimble are hard to put into words. The things he did for the team and the program are something that hasn’t been seen since Juan Dixon back in the early 2000s.
The Terps lost their leading scorer (16.2 points) on the court and their leader off of it.
The loss of these four players, while tough, makes room for four players to step in and fill their shoes in the 2017-18 campaign.
Joshua Tomaic, a name some may recognize, was a redshirt freshman last season. Over the past few weeks, Tomaic has already began to make a name for himself in the FIBA U19 World Cup over in Cairo.
Tomaic played for Spain and averaged 6.6 points over 21.1 minutes. Spain lost in the bronze medal match to the United States and teammate Kevin Huerter.
Tomaic, a 6’9″ forward, will have ample opportunity to see action this season for the Terps. He plays a position where Maryland has very little depth and his length will prove to be important, especially on the defensive end.
He did a great job defending larger post players during the FIBA World Cup, which is something that he will have to continue to do against the size of the Big Ten. Tomaic will continue to develop and hopefully become a household name for the Terps down the line.
Graduate transfer Sean Obi comes to Maryland this season after one year at Rice and three seasons at Duke.
Injuries marred Obi’s three seasons at Duke as he played in only 10 games during his time in Durham. He will use his 6’9″, 255-pound frame to bolster the Maryland frontcourt, who desperately needs help on the glass.
If Obi can stay healthy for his last year of eligibility, he can offer some much needed depth for Maryland.
Obi also comes in as the most veteran member of a very young Terps squad. He should give valuable insight and advice to the younger guys, whether he can stay healthy or not.
The first of two freshman recruits, Bruno Fernando, comes in as a four star recruit out of the IMG Academy (Fla.).
ESPN’s scouting report on Fernando describes him as “a strong and physical post that runs the floor, finishes, area rebounds on both ends and protects the rim with his shot blocking. He is an above the rim finisher when he receives drop off passes created by dribble penetration.”
It has been a while since Maryland has had a productive two-way big man. Alex Len developed into one and, with any luck, Michal Cekovsky will continue to do so as well in his senior season. Fernando’s ability to shot block and run off the ball on the offensive end will be essential to his success in College Park.
Cowan is a great point guard for Fernando to play with. Cowan excels at using his speed to beat people off the dribble.
This forces the frontcourt defense to shift coverage to Cowan allowing for drop off passes, something Fernando has had success with during his high school career.
Fernando should be able to come in and play major minutes, and maybe even start, right away. Maryland currently only has Cekovsky and Ivan Bender at the center position, but production could be a question mark.
Fernando stands at 6’10 and 235 pounds and should bring enough size and skill to be effective at both ends of the floor.
The final new face on the 2017-18 Terps is incoming freshman Darryl Morsell. Morsell, a local four star recruit from Baltimore, comes in as the 25th-best shooting guard in the 2017 class.
Gathering offers from the likes of Notre Dame and Villanova, Morsell decided to stay home and play for the Terps. It also resulted in Maryland landing his four-star teammate Jalen Smith in the 2018 class.
Morsell could be an immediate starter, filling a hole in the offense left by the departure of Trimble.
Cowan coming in as a true point guard allowed Trimble to play his more natural shooting guard position. With Trimble leaving, that spot is open allowing Morsell to step in.
Huerter can play shooting guard, but Maryland lacks size in their rotation. He will play as a small forward the majority of the time to accommodate that detriment.
Maryland does have guys like Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley that may start over Morsell in the early going, but expect Morsell to develop quickly and showcase his talent early and often.
Maryland is without their backup point guard in Brantley, from a season ago. Morsell is a combo guard that will take some pressure off of Cowan when needed much like Trimble did last year.
Maryland can really utilize an athletic guard that plays aggressive and gets to the basket. A backcourt of Cowan and Morsell could terrorize the Big Ten for the next few years if Morsell develops very quickly.
Coach Mark Turgeon and the Maryland staff did a great job of recruiting to fill needs and brought in a graduate transfer for the fourth consecutive season.
Although a lot of talent was lost during the offseason, the roles were filled with talented players that will hopefully propel the Terps back to the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season.
The Terps certainly have a dangerous young core in place. If these young guys can learn to play together, Maryland will be a perennial contender and a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten for years to come.