When Maryland announced that it was headed to the Big Ten, the move was not expected to shift the football landscape very much. Sure, the Terps are enjoying some decent gridiron success so far, but the biggest impact of the move will be felt on the basketball court. Even if they don't compete for a conference title this season, Maryland has the potential to win the league in future years and brings a proud, competitive program to an already stout group of basketball teams.
So who are the faces that make up the Big Ten's newest basketball power? That's what we are here to find out.
If you're going to know one member of the Maryland basketball team headed into the 2014-15 season, that man should be Dez Wells. Expected to be the primary ball-handler for Mark Turgeon's squad this year, Wells is more of a combo guard than a pure point guard. He had more turnovers (2.5 per game) than assists (2.2 per game) last year, but he also scored 14.9 points per game on 48-percent shooting. Wells knows how to get to the foul line and is an excellent free throw shooter (82 percent) once he gets there. As a senior in 2014-15, Wells will be shouldering a big load and is a sleeper for the All-Big Ten First Team.
Maryland lost key contributors Seth Allen and Nick Faust to transfers over the summer, but fortunately Richaud Pack has been imported from North Carolina A&T to man the shooting guard spot. Last season, Pack scored 17 points per game and shot 37 percent from beyond the arc for an Aggies team that admittedly was among the worst in the nation. It wasn't because of Pack, though. The senior's efficient scoring and ability to play either guard spot will come in handy for the Terps in 2014-15.
While Wells and Pack should prove to be a reliable backcourt duo, there are also a couple of exciting recruits that should slot right into the guard rotation. Melo Trimble from Upper Marlboro is a five-star combo guard who can score from anywhere on the floor. With three-point shooting as his specialty, Trimble should be able to open up the floor no matter what position he plays. Maryland is relying on Trimble to take over the starting point guard job right away, so a lot of the Terps' season depends on how quickly the youngster adjusts to the college game.
Dion Wiley is another freshman who may see playing time right away. From Oxon Hill, he's an athletic shooter who can also break down defenses and score on the inside. Although he doesn't have point guard aspirations like Trimble, Wiley might be just as good of a scorer. I'd expect both guys to see decent playing time in Turgeon's rotation.
While the state of Maryland is most known for crabcakes, the basketball team should be most known for having big men who can shoot the ball. Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz were tops on the team in three-point shot attempts in 2013-14, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the duo do it again this year.
If you're reading this website, there's a good chance you remember Smotrycz from his days at Michigan. Not much has changed since then. He's still a stretch four who can rebound and defend the post a little bit but is mostly out there to hit treys from the outside. He did so at a 37-percent rate last season and will look to bump that number upwards while improving his defense in 2014-15.
Layman gets lumped in with Smotrycz because both players are lanky three/fours who can shoot the ball well, but Layman is a more legitimate professional prospect. Although both players are listed a 6'8", Layman is more athletic and can do more guard-like things like penetrate the defense and defend the perimeter. He's also a superior shot blocker while shooting just as efficiently as Smotrycz. Look for Turgeon to start out playing both forwards at the same time before making adjustments based on the opponent and game flow.
Jonathan Graham and Damonte Dodd are both your more traditional defense-and-rebounding forwards who will factor into the rotation this winter. Although Graham was never a great player at Penn State before transferring closer to home, his ability to provide offensive rebounding is valuable to a Maryland team that sees its other forwards spend a lot of time outside the arc. Dodd is also a guy who doesn't do a lot of scoring but has the size and rebounding ability that Turgeon needs if he wants to add defense to the lineup.
Both Graham and Dodd could be pushed by incoming freshman Michal Cekovsky. The seven-footer from Slovakia is still quite thin (listed at just 225 pounds), but he has the ability to score from the post as well as the perimeter. As long as Cekovsky adds the weight necessary to be a more effective rebounder, he promises to be an impact player for the Terps. Until that happens, though, Graham and Dodd will see plenty of playing time on the interior.