Unlike Maryland’s backcourt, the forward position for head coach Mark Turgeon is much more cut-and-dry. Bruno Fernando is poised for a big sophomore season, while potential phenom Jalen Smith is about as locked in to a starting spot as a freshmen can be in early October. Pairing the two gifted bigs side-by-side in the Terps starting lineup gives Maryland a buzz-worthy and high-energy duo, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in College Park for some time.
On the bench, Michal Cekovsky and Jared Nickens have graduated, passing the torch (and their minutes) to senior Ivan Bender and sophomore Joshua Tomaic. The two shouldn’t have a problem fighting off incoming freshmen Ricky Lindo and Trace Ramsey for playing time, especially when considering the likelihood of Maryland using a smaller lineup due to its stable of talented guards.
But how exactly will everything breakdown and what should expectations be for the aforementioned four forwards?
With Michal Cekovsky and Jared Nickens having moved on, the 6-foot-9 Bosnian takes over as the elder statesman in Maryland’s frontcourt. Bender saw action in 15 games last year for the Terps, including starting seven, before a torn meniscus cut his junior season short. With limited depth for coach Turgeon at the forward position, Bender will need to get back up to speed quickly and improve on his 3.4 points per game average to help solidify Maryland’s rotation.
If Bender, however, has any type of setback in his recovery, Maryland’s big man bench minutes will fall squarely on the broad shoulders of little-used redshirt sophomore Joshua Tomaic. The Spaniard did appear in 26 games last year for the Terps, however, he only averaged 8.8 minutes of game action and 2.2 points per contest when he did see the floor. If Tomaic is forced into a larger role for Maryland, however, not all hope is lost. The 6-foot-9 forward showed flashes last year, including an 11 point outing against Ohio State in mid-January.
In most cases, the incoming three-star recruit would be a prime candidate for a redshirt. But at 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, the Don Bosco Prep product is in a little bit better shape to contribute emergency frontcourt minutes than Maryland’s other true freshmen forward (more on him in a sec). That said, it would serve Ramsey well to sit and watch for a year in College Park, so him playing any major role for the 2018-’19 Terrapins would almost assuredly mean the wheels have fallen off the Maryland bus.
A late addition to coach Turgeon’s recruiting class, Lindo fills the roster spot originally reserved for Mississippi State transfer Schnider Heard. A local player out of Washington D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson High School, Lindo was ready to take a prep year before the Terps came calling. Now, he’ll more than likely take a redshirt as he bulks up his 6-foot-8, 180 pound frame with sights set on contributing to a 2019-’20 Maryland team that will more than likely be without projected starters Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith, along with the graduating Ivan Bender.