2016-2017 ITH Season Preview: Maryland Terrapins

  • 10/06/2016 7:25 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our Big Ten team previews with the Maryland Terrapins.

Not many programs would view a 27-9 finish and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen as a disappointment, but Maryland’s 2015-2016 campaign was just that.

After starting the season ranked No. 3 in both the Associated Press and coaches polls, Maryland ended the season with a 79-63 loss to Kansas in the South regional semifinal. On February 9, the Terps were 22-3 and looked like a legitimate Final Four contender. But Maryland went 5-6 from that point forward, including the 16-point loss to the Jayhawks.

As Maryland enters the 2016-2017 season, there will be plenty of new faces in College Park. The Terps lost Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon to graduation. Diamond Stone and Robert Carter both left early for the NBA. But the centerpiece of Maryland’s teams the last two seasons, point guard Melo Trimble, returns. His presence, along with some strong returnees in the rotation and a solid freshman class, could put Maryland right back into the NCAA tournament conversation.

Trimble battled nagging injuries for most of his sophomore season, but was still one of the top point guards in the country. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 14.8 points, 4.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds on his way to earning second team All-Big Ten honors.

The Terps will have two capable backups for Trimble in Jaylen Brantley and Anthony Cowan, a 247Composite top 100 recruit. Brantley had an eventful offseason helping the Running Man Challenge go viral along with teammate Jared Nickens, who we’ll get to shortly.

Returning to the Maryland backcourt is redshirt sophomore Dion Wiley, who missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. Wiley averaged 4.1 points and 1.5 rebounds as a freshman and should take on a much larger role with the departure of Sulaimon. Freshman guard Kevin Huerter, who is 6-foot-7, is an elite shooter who will be in the rotation right away. Huerter is a 247Composite top 100 recruit and played for the FIBA Americas U18 gold medal team this past summer.

On the wing, Nickens is a volume 3-point shooter who has made 108 shots from distance through his first two seasons. Freshmen wings Micah Thomas and Justin Jackson, yet another 247Composite top 100 recruit for the Terps, will provide depth and athleticism.

Duquesne graduate transfer L.G. Gill arrives and should provide experience in the frontcourt after averaging 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds last season.

In the post, Turgeon will have options with 7-foot-1 Michael Cekovsky, 6-foot-11 Damonte Dodd and 6-foot-9 Joshua Tomaic, who signed late. Dodd is the most experienced of the group and made 64 percent of his 2s last season.

Bottom Line: Trimble is the clear headliner of the Maryland roster, but Turgeon has a solid roster to work with and could surprise given a very favorable Big Ten schedule. Huerter was a major pickup on the recruiting trail and Wiley has the potential to be a very good scorer in the backcourt. The late addition of Gill should help an otherwise unproven frontcourt. The Terps failed to meet expectations a season ago, but have the pieces in place to be on the Big Ten’s surprise teams in 2016-2017.

Quotable: “I think across the board, we just added really good players, and that’s what you want to do. Your ultimate goal is to be the best team in April, and to do that, you have to have great players, and you have to recruit good players and make them better. I think we have a group right now that we can really make better. I like where we are.” – Turgeon to Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.

PreviouslyRutgers, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue

(Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America)

Filed to:

  • GatewayHoosier

    In keeping with some of our chats about CTC and recruiting recently, this preview is a great segue to something that’s been bugging me — how is it that a program like Maryland becomes attractive to so much elite talent? Any assets they have (example, program legacy) we’ve got in spades. Any criticisms that could be leveled at CTC seem to me just as applicable (if not more) to Turgeon…very underwhelming to me as a coach. How does Turgeon draw a Diamond Stone from WI, practically a Jaren Jackson from IN, and potentially a Billy Preston from CA? I think it makes me cynical about recruiting as a whole, suspicious that there are larger forces at play. I don’t mean “cheating” outright, but just that what makes sense to us as fans (institutional rep, chance to win, etc.) matters way less to many players. What matters? I hear people say AAU connections, shoe companies, and the like…I don’t know.

    It’s probably just wishful thinking (especially after the Sampson era!) and the desire to believe that CTC and the staff are above reproach / cleaner than other programs. But with the Wilkes (who I’m actually still hopeful we’ll get) recruitment as an example: we’ve been in on him longer than anyone, our program has been improving, he’s gotten nothing but love from fans and the state…and if at the end of the day, John Groce & Illinois are more attractive options, that just defies all common sense.

  • Berned Out

    Diamond Stone is a pompous a$$. I don’t want players like him. Let his likes go to the flashy East Coast metropolis.

  • GatewayHoosier

    Yeah, I’m definitely not saying I want IU to get guys like Diamond Stone. I’m just trying to figure out how a school like Maryland becomes so attractive to lots of 5-stars. I get why UK, Duke, Kansas are destinations…but why MD, NC State, etc….

    I do, however, want Wilkes.

  • Berned Out

    Because the flashy East Coast metropolis allows them some NBA make-believe. Bloomington is a place of innocence, a mid-Western Eden. LOL.

  • Arch Puddington

    To add to the consternation….

    I posted on a similar topic recently, and in doing some digging I found the (to me) wild fact that after Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas, the school with the most 5 star recruits over the last few years is…..Washington.


    NC State also seems to get more than its share of highly-ranked recruits. Until they fired Josh Pastner, Memphis got quite a few. Heck, I find it a bit odd that UCLA continues to haul one top recruit after another. I get LA and all, but no one comes to the games, the coach is on the hot seat, and Arizona, a program with much better credentials at this point, is right down the road.

    I like the players we’re getting, but to win a National Championship we probably need to be more competitive with the 5 stars than we seem to be right at the moment. Not sure what it will take, but hopefully the turnaround we saw last year leads to enough success and confidence in CTC that we can take that last recruiting step up.

  • Almost doesn’t count in recruiting. Maryland didn’t get Jaren Jackson and they aren’t going to get Billy Preston, either.

  • GatewayHoosier

    Washington is another great example.

    I, too, would love to get a few more 5-stars. I think an ideal mix for a program like IU in each class is something like one 5-star, two real strong (Justin Smith-like) 4-stars, one (Hartman, OG, Zeisloft-life) underrated 3-star. But I’m sure others would disagree.

  • GatewayHoosier

    That’s fair. I still feel like programs like MD / Washington out-punch their weight, but maybe that’s not backed up by data.

  • Arch Puddington

    I’d take that!

  • Arch Puddington

    I disagree. Not only is it mystifying enough that schools like Maryland and Illinois get looked at by players of that stature, the further point is that in order to land such players, schools have to be on their list in the first place. No one gets ALL the recruits they pursue, not even Kentucky. So while Maryland may not get/have gotten Preston and Jackson, the point is that they might have. They have gotten others like them, and will be in contention for still others in the future. Same for Illinois, who got both Jalen Coleman-Lands and Leron Black even though both were pursued heavily by IU. The fact that some players end up going elsewhere does not change either the mysteriousness of the fact that they are considered in the first place, or the even greater mysteriousness of the fact that they actually get some of them.

  • Tcuomo

    If you had ever even driven through College Park, you would know it’s nothing close to a “flashy East Coast Metropolis”. On the contrary, it’s a dump. Under Armours close affiliation with Maryland is what I see as the main attraction.

  • Tcuomo

    Under Armour bro. The guy who started the company is a Maryland grad and is trying to do for Maryland what Nike has done for Oregon.

  • TomJameson

    Well, if that’s the case then IU should be getting plenty of love from the fans for their recruiting because they end up in the final 3-5 of a ton of the 5-star recruits. IU “almost” gets plenty of them.

    FWIW, I think that by more-and-more consistently being seriously considered by top recruits is a good thing. And I think recruiting is trending upward also, the actual getting recruits, not just the considerations.

  • Arch Puddington

    Not sure we’re talking about the same thing. I’m not saying that a school should be considered a success just because it is makes the list of a top recruit or two. What I am saying is that it is mystifying that schools like Maryland and Illinois get so consistently looked at by top recruits at all. IU is better in almost every objective way than those programs, but at this point both seem to get almost as much consideration from top recruits as we do. Both have won recruiting battles against us, including for players from Indiana. I find that strange, even if/when a given player like Jackson does not choose them.

  • Berned Out

    The Research triangle. A hub of industry and money. Maybe flashy is the wrong word.

  • b_side

    Not sure the Illinois recruits make your case stronger…

    Coleman-Lands would’ve been behind Yogi, RJ and JBJ in the backcourt. I would imagine a Top 40 guard like him went to Illinois for a greater chance to play right away.

    Since Hanner, we haven’t really been on the radar with players who transfer to La Lumiere. Once Jalen and his family made that decision, I think that effectively ended the recruitment. For whatever reason (personality differences with their coach?), Crean doesn’t have a strong pipeline with the program l(despite its proximity) like he does at a place like Huntington Prep.

    Le’Ron Black has had some off court issues. Given everything we dealt with from 2013-2015, his decision may have been a blessing in disguise. Besides, if he only played ~15mpg for a mediocre Illinois team during his freshman year, I don’t see him being much of a game changer.

  • Arch Puddington

    How recruits turn out is a separate matter. Black and Coleman-Lands were both top 40 recruits whom IU went after hard. Both chose a school that seems to me to be significantly less appealing. Obviously there are individual circumstances that impact these things, including playing time, but over time Illinois manages to attract more interest than that alone can account for. So does Maryland, at least as I see it. (Also worth pointing out that Illinois was loaded at guard as well. I don’t remember who all got injured and when, but at the time he committed they would have had Kendrick Nunn, Tracy Abrams, and Malcolm Hill, plus a couple of other guards in his class).

  • b_side

    Assuming both backcourts were equally heavy, I’d venture to guess it had more to do with La Lumiere than anything else.

    I think how a recruit turns out does have implications and is important to the discussion. Hindsight is 20/20 after all, especially when it comes to a very flawed ranking system. If a player’s ranking is the primary reason for crying over spilled milk, then we need their performance (on- and off-court) to know if we really missed out on something.

  • Ian Karanovic

    I think the RT is in North Carolina (Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh) and not in Maryland. I mean, MD has its share of research facilities and good universities, but I don’t think they call it the Research Triangle.