The 2014-15 season didn't end according to plan for the Maryland Terrapins. With then freshman point guard Melo Trimble getting knocked out of the game with a concussion, any hope of Maryland battling back towards victory evaporated with the lack of ball-handlers for the Terrapins.
Maryland made some key additions to their backcourt, most notably bringing in former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon - you can read about Sulaimon in BTPowerhouse's top 25 player countdown. The 6'5, 195-pound senior could spend time spelling Trimble as the primary ball-handler, but is expected to play more as a shooting guard - possibly as the starting shooting guard. Freshman big man Diamond Stone gets the most accolades in Maryland's 2015 recruiting class - and rightfully so - but a piece that looks to be invaluable based on last season's ending will be former Marshall commit Jaylen Brantley.
The 5'11, 170-pound point guard from Springfield, MA comes into College Park as an outstanding ball-handler and someone who is poised to be a capable backup to Trimble. Going back to the West Virginia game, Maryland was forced to use then senior Richaud Pack as the secondary ball-handler on the rare occasion Trimble went to the bench. Pack served more as a shooting guard, and his dribbling abilities - or lack thereof - were exposed.
As backup point guard, Brantley will not only serve as a promising ball handler, and orchestrator of the offense when Trimble is out, but he'll also provide a nice shooting stroke ranging out to the three point line. The Odessa College (TX) transfer also possesses the ability to finish drives through contact with either hand.
An added benefit of Brantley is with his propensity of drawing contact in the lane, free throw shooting won't be much of a problem when Trimble is on the bench. Brantley shot an impressive 80% for Odessa.
Areas for Improvement
Listed at 5'11, 170 pounds, Brantley could have a tough time going up against taller and stronger guards in the Big Ten. With the lack of height and length, closing out on shooters and getting in passing lanes could be tough for him to do on a consistent basis.
Brantley will need to utilize his big men in a high screen offense to best use his offensive skill set, as he lacks the quickness to get by Division 1 defenders. He uses a variety of spin moves and high ball screens to penetrate towards the rim, which could make him stagnant against tougher caliber programs.
His 36.2% three point shooting percentage could be negated when he sees Big Ten guards. His lack of size will only allow for him to be a spot up shooter at best.
With the assumption of Melo Trimble bolting for the NBA after this upcoming season, Brantley will share the backcourt with 2016 point guard commit Anthony Cowan. With three years of eligibility remaining, it'll be an interesting battle in the offseason to see who obtains the starting lead guard spot between the two. Brantley is going to be best served as a solid role player who will take pressure of Trimble and run the offense when called upon. Defensively, he could be a liability, but extra ball-handlers is what Maryland needed and they delivered by landing Brantley.