After announcing the transfer of Duquesne’s L.G. Gill, Mark Turgeon and the Maryland Terrapins look to close to, if not fully, set for next season.
The transfer of Gill, which we reported as a possibility a couple weeks ago, is likely the final addition of personnel. Barring any extenuating circumstances, the players they have now will likely take the floor in the fall.
On the back of losing all five of their starters to either graduation or early departure for the NBA, the Terrapins will have a very different look this coming season. We take a look at how their starting five will look come the start of the next campaign.
The familiar face of Melo Trimble is set to be gone, although there is a sliver of hope that he decides against the NBA Draft since he has not hired an agent. Assuming the fan-favorite of the past two years will go pro, there is a competition for his spot. Jaylen Brantley, who you may know from the “running man challenge” internet sensation he ignited with teammate Jared Nickens, is returning after playing understudy to Trimble last season. He was a dependable backup who could shoot the ball and run the floor effectively enough, and while he is Turgeon’s most experienced option, he has some competition.
Incoming freshman Anthony Cowan is set to challenge Brantley for the starting spot. The two are both under 6′ tall, meaning Brantley’s minimal experience is the only slight advantage in the battle. Cowan brings solid handles, a good shot and a willingness to drive to the table, as made evident in this highlight video.
Still, it is unlikely that – unless Cowan wows in the preseason – Brantley will lose out right away. If the former JUCO transfer does not perform though, Turgeon likely will not be hesitant to pull the trigger on the four-star recruit from Washington, D.C. in Cowan.
Starter Prediction: Jaylen Brantley
Maryland will have two players with decent experience at the shooting guard position, as Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley will both be entering their third year in College Park. However, with Nickens’ length and the lack of depth in terms of taller players, Wiley should be the top choice for shooting guard.
Wiley, who missed all of last season after tearing his ACL, will return healthy as a redshirt-sophomore. In his freshman season, Wiley averaged four points and 1.5 rebounds in 13 minutes per game. He is a solid defender because he is strong and athletic, but he can also contribute on the offensive end with a good jump shot.
We will likely see a mix of Nickens and Wiley in this role, and Brantley and Cowan may see time if Turgeon uses the occasional two-point guard setup. Incoming sharpshooter Kevin Huerter could also get some minutes behind Wiley.
Starter Prediction: Dion Wiley
Nickens did not improve on a solid freshman campaign as a swingman/shooter, but he has a chance to redeem himself in a new role. At 6’6″, he is capable of playing a little larger than the shooting guard position, and due to the aforementioned depth he will likely have to. He will not play the same role as Jake Layman, who at 6’9″ was more involved down low, but Nickens will have a tougher task defensively, probably having to guard players larger than him.
Behind Nickens will be yet another freshman in Micah Thomas. Thomas is a bit larger at 6’7″, and is listed as a natural small forward. If Nickens shows any issues with the position, expect Thomas to be given a chance. He is a very good athlete, but despite being taller than Nickens, he may need to bulk up a bit as he is just at 185 pounds. He is a solid option to have, and may be called upon if Nickens can’t adjust to a new role.
Starter Prediction: Jared Nickens
The somewhat surprising loss of Robert Carter Jr. to the NBA left a big hole in the Terps roster. They have solid big men that can play center, but nobody who is trustworthy enough to move to power forward. Turgeon did a good job in searching the transfer market, and he found his answer in Duquesne’s L.G. Gill.
Gill is a power forward by trade, and as a graduate transfer is eligible to play his final season right away. With his experience and the fact that he is the only true power forward at Turgeon’s disposal, Gill will slide right into the starting role. When he is not on the court the Terps will probably play small with Thomas at the power forward spot, or go the opposite way with Damonte Dodd or Michal Cekovsky moving from center down. But, Gill is definitely the starter, and, according to many, a very shrewd pickup from Turgeon.
Duquesne transfer LG Gill has committed to Maryland, source told @CBSSports. Immediately eligible for next season. Big get for Terps.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 9, 2016
Starter Prediction: L.G. Gill
Dodd is set to enter his senior year while Cekovsky is going to be a junior. Neither are as stellar offensively as Diamond Stone was last season, but both are far more stable defensively while providing decent outlets down low on the other end.
Dodd definitely has the edge over Cekovsky, as he played a lot more last season and has developed into a very dependable player. He’ll never set the building on fire, but he can provide solid outings day-in-day-out whereas Cekovsky is more of a wild card. Still, the 7-footer from the Czech Republic will get a lot of time with just Dodd ahead of him, and he’ll play a big role off the bench.
Neither will emulate what Stone brought to the table, and both have many deficiencies. Both are experienced players who know what Mark Turgeon demands from his players, and will need to produce given the team’s recent departures.
Starter Prediction: Damonte Dodd
It does not look like a banner year for the Terrapins, but the team should still be able to compete in the Big Ten with the conference having a relatively down year last season. The starting five of Brantley, Wiley, Nickens, Gill and Dodd may not be as star-studded as Trimble, Rasheed Sulaimon, Layman, Carter Jr. and Stone, but they will have to do.
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