The No. 3 Maryland Terrapins are next up in my team-by-team NBA draft breakdown, and they might be even more talented than the squad that won 28 games a year ago.
Maryland earned a No. 4 seed, then, and lost to West Virginia in the round of 32. They only lost two rotation players in senior starter Dez Wells and backup senior big man Evan Smotrycz. Incoming freshman big man Diamond Stone should bring plenty of talent and girth to an already big and experienced frontline.
Transfer Robert Carter Jr. should make a big impact right away, as well as former Duke combo guard Rasheed Sulaimon. When point guard Melo Trimble announced his return in April, it set up the Terrapins for the potential of a dream season. Maryland also returns talent in sharpshooting forward Jake Layman, athletic big man Damonte Dodd and swingmen Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley. With that being said, who are the top NBA prospects on this talented Maryland team?
5. Rasheed Sulaimon 6-5 195 PG/SG Senior
Rasheed Sulaimon had been in mock drafts during his time at Duke, before being the first player ever dismissed by Coach Mike Krzyzewski last January after he “repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations” of the program. So now Sulaimon finds himself in a great situation at Maryland, playing a secondary role as a defender and shooter among a talented group of swingmen. At 6-5 and 195 pounds, Sulaimon is a slight but very quick and athletic guard, capable of playing both backcourt positions.
Sulaimon fell out of favor throughout his time at Duke, playing less and less, but should be a starter immediately for Maryland. His ability to shoot the ball from deep should be a fit in Mark Turgeon’s offense, as he shot better than 40.0 percent each of the past two seasons at Duke. But Sulaimon still has plenty of work to do finishing around the basket and shooting inside the arc. If he’s able to round out his overall offensive game as a senior, look for him to reappear on mock drafts as a potential 3-and-D, second round prospect in the 2016 draft.
4. Jake Layman 6-9 220 SF Senior
Jake Layman had his best all-around year last season as a junior, averaging a career-highs across the board: 12.5 points per game on 47.0 percent shooting from the field and 37.8 percent from long range. Layman will play an important role providing a steady senior presence for Maryland and should have his best year as he’s improved annually. Layman is a good athlete and has the length to play above-average defense, but he still needs to improve as a creator with the ball in his hands.
Layman still should continue to add bulk to his frame, because defending NBA small forwards will be a tougher task than anyone he’ll guard in the ACC. It might also help Laymon’s versatility, with the NBA going smaller and smaller, for him to play some power forward as a senior. If Layman’s able to show more improvement and physicality in his final season, he should be a second-round pick in 2016, his ceiling likely being picked around 35-45.
3. Robert Carter 6-8 250 PF Junior
Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter just spent a year reshaping his body and game during the redshirt season and should make a big impact as a starter this year. At 6-8 with a 7-2 wingspan and weighing in at 250 pounds, Carter has excellent size for a power forward and plenty of experience, averaging 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in his lone season at Georgia Tech. Carter even showed off a bit of stretch ability, knocking down 14 threes on 53 attempts at a 26.4 percent clip.
Carter continues a trend of personnel for Mark Turgeon—adding another big body who can help space the floor and rebound the basketball. Carter’s size and soft touch just give Maryland another go-to option down low, and someone the Terrapins can rely upon for consistent production. It should be a big year for Carter after a successful year off, and if he makes big strides as a role player, his NBA stock could take a leap as well.
2. Melo Trimble 6-3 190 PG Maryland Sophomore
Trimble had a great freshman year during the regular season before fatigue got the best of him come tourney time, and that is one area where Trimble looks to improve as he heads into his sophomore campaign. Trimble has nice quickness and deep range on his jumper (41.2 percent from three) which allows him to get where he wants on the floor when the defense over-commits. An area of concern is on defense, but Trimble focused this summer on improving at that end to become a more all-around player.
Trimble has also worked on getting his teammates more involved this summer, becoming a complete point guard in the process. This should benefit him in the long run, as Trimble will be a point guard at the next level with his 6-3 frame and small 6-2 wingspan. There is still a ways to go for Trimble as an NBA prospect, but what he showed as a true freshman was very promising. If he’s able to add weight and display more point guard ability as a sophomore, it’s possible he’s a first round draft pick come June.
1. Diamond Stone 6-10 255 C Freshman
Diamond Stone will be one of the most impactful college freshmen in the country this season, utilizing his 6-10 frame and 7-3 length to score around the basket and block shots. Stone uses his footwork smartly and is a pro at sealing near the basket to create space. Stone even has a bit of a jump shot, although I’m curious to see how far he’ll stray from the basket with his size. Stone should provide a big presence immediately, and give the Terrapins another option on the low block.
Stone has improved his body a lot throughout his high school career, but his conditioning still needs work as he takes this next step to the highest level. While Stone, for the most part, has a pretty good all-around offensive game, it’s defense where scouts will continue to be skeptical. If Stone shows promise on that end with mobility and conditioning, he should be a mid-first round pick in next year’s draft.