It took some time to digest what happened on Thursday, but it finally seems okay to talk about Maryland basketball.
First off, it’s important to say this: the Terps lost four starters from last year. Whether you think Melo Trimble is still a star, overrated or properly rated, he was left alone. It was his team, and perhaps that proved he isn’t a top-tier basketball player, but there was a lot on his shoulders.
They lost Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman to graduation. Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. both proved why neither should have left early (the former is plying his trade in the D-League, the latter in Italy—at least it’s nice there).
Maybe starting 20-2 was not the best thing for them, because anyone who had lowered expectations prior to the season was suddenly giddy. The final stretch of the season showed what Maryland really was, though:
A work in progress.
The loss to Xavier in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament was just icing on the cake. So, with that in mind, we grade the starting five on their season performances.
G Anthony Cowan – B
Cowan came in as one of Maryland’s highly-touted recruits, but when Trimble announced his return, it seemed that the freshman might be an understudy. Instead, he started in a loaded backcourt, and held himself very well for a young player.
He was never the player to have offensive outbursts and lead the team in that category, but he posted a respectable 10 points and nearly four assists per game. His energy and quickness make him a formidable defender, though, and he showed it. Cowan is under six feet tall, and still averaged four rebounds per game while also leading the team in steals with 40.
If Cowan sharpens some offensive assets, he could become one of the best guards in the Big Ten, and maybe the country. Regardless, his freshman campaign set him up for a bright future, with or without Trimble in the backcourt with him next season.
G Melo Trimble – B-
Maybe we expect too much of him. There is no reason a team’s best player, leading scorer, and the university’s most recognizable face should be getting a B-. But, here we are.
Trimble had his trademark clutch moments—the layup against Kansas State, the buzzer beater three against Michigan State—but faltered at times when the team needed him most. He missed a winner against Nebraska and failed to make a discernible difference in the Big Ten Tournament loss to Northwestern. Worst of all, turnovers and missed free throws marred what was possibly his last appearance in a Maryland jersey against Xavier.
He led the team with almost 17 points per game, but the only other categories he led the team in were free throw percentage, minutes and turnovers. Everyone at Maryland loves Melo Trimble. However, the Trimble they fell in love with hasn’t shown his true self since his freshman year.
Who knows if Trimble moves on to the NBA. He probably should at this point, given how much his stock has already fallen. Maryland would welcome him back with open arms, but it’s time to take him off the pedestal. It was an average season from the man supposed to lead the Terps.
If this is Melo Trimble's final college game, he's not going out in style. Could get paid in Europe but NBA seems unlikely. We shall see.
— Mark Viviano (@MarkWJZ) March 17, 2017
G Kevin Huerter – B+
Allow me to preface with this: Kevin Huerter is awesome.
He put his name in Maryland folklore early on with that block to cap off a comeback win over Georgetown. He was the one of the best three point shooters on the team, and though his nine points per game doesn’t show it, he was an integral part of the offense.
Huerter also grabbed five rebounds per game this season, a very nice output from a guard. There were freshman moments from him, but, like Cowan, he can be proud of his rookie campaign.
Part of Huerter’s grade hovers around his potential. Some of those deep threes he hit against Xavier when Maryland needed a spark may not have made a difference in the end, but it showed his confidence and ability. If Trimble moves on, Huerter will have an increased role in the offense next season, and may even be their go-to scorer.
F Justin Jackson – B
Jackson is an incredibly talented athlete and player, and is poised to continue to improve as time goes on. He was the second-leading scorer with over 10 points per game and averaged six rebounds, leading the team. That was the good stuff, and it was very good.
However, after he’d break out and look like a monster, he would go anonymous for long stretches. It was a classic symptom of a raw freshman talent, but considering the ups, it was hard to stomach the downs.
Given his height and wingspan coupled with athleticism and ability, Jackson could be a true NBA prospect if he brings it all together next season. Every player has inconsistencies, but Jackson’s seemed to show more than most. If and when he becomes a constant force, he will be a very good player for Maryland.
F/C Damonte Dodd – B
Down the stretch, Dodd was nullified because of the season-ending injury suffered by Michal Cekovsky. He couldn’t be as physical because the Terps didn’t have a good option off the bench if Dodd got in foul trouble. However, before Cekovsky’s injury, Dodd was really impressive in his senior season.
He’s not an offensive stud, but he improved immensely, averaging over six points per game after posting under three last season. He became a well-rounded big man—not a star, but a good player in the post.
Defensively, Dodd was a beast, blocking two shots per game, most of them emphatically. Again, we didn’t see as much of that near the end of the season, which is unfortunate.
Dodd will graduate and move on, and he may not have always been a fan-favorite at Maryland, but the team will miss their big man after a nice senior campaign.