Fresh off its most forgettable season since joining the Big Ten, Maryland, who posted its first sub-.500 conference record since 2012-’13 and missed the postseason altogether, will be looking to rebound in a big way this fall with sights set on a conference championship and an invite back to March Madness.
At quick glance those might seem like lofty goals, yet despite losing sharp-shooting guard Kevin Huerter to the NBA, the Terrapins find itself in good shape to contend in a much-improved Big Ten thanks to a trio of players in Anthony Cowan Jr., Bruno Fernando, and Jalen Smith.
With a little less than six weeks till practice starts up in earnest and the Terps having just wrapped up its international trip to Italy, BTPowerhouse is launching a weekly in-depth look at the aforementioned three-headed monster, fleshing out why Maryland should be increasingly optimistic about its immediate future.
Anthony Cowan Jr.
A former four-star top 75 recruit, the 6-foot Bowie, Md. native took noticeable steps forward last year, increasing his scoring average by 5.5 points per game, while also raising his 3-point shooting percentage by over 40 points. He also proved a more-than-capable lead guard replacement for the departed Melo Trimble, becoming a reliable creator on the offensive end of the court (he averaged 5.1 assists per game) and a pesky player without the ball, earning a spot on the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team.
And on top of all that, Cowan’s uptick in production found him on the All-Big Ten Third Team, the only Terp to earn anything higher than an honorable mention.
Entering the 2018-’19 campaign, coach Mark Turgeon will be looking for Cowan to take yet another leap forward as he’ll be relying on the junior to carry the Terps guard production with only sophomore Darryl Morsell and a trio of talented, but raw, freshmen making up the remainder of Maryland’s backcourt.
The good news for Turgeon and Terps nation, though, is that if the offseason is any indication, Cowan looks more than ready to shoulder that load.
He posted scoring figures of 27, 31, and 27 points, respectively, with none two being bigger than his game-winning buzzer beater during Saturday’s contest.
“My coach just put the ball in my hand,” said Cowan, via a Maryland press release. “He said just go downhill with a ball screen and finish the play.”
Even more encouraging than his play at the tournament is the fact that Cowan has put on five pounds of muscle this offseason, while adding yoga into his regular workout regimen.
“I feel like I’ve gotten bigger and stronger,” said Cowan. “It’s helped me with my game by allowing me to open up my hips and stretch different parts of my body. Most importantly, it’s been good for my mental state. It has helped me relax and stay in the present.”
All things considered, a stronger, looser, more confident Anthony Cowan Jr. is a scary thing to imagine for Maryland’s Big Ten opposition.
And if his play at the Kenner manages to be more of a precursor than an aberration, the Maryland faithful could be in store for a special year down in College Park.
Cowan will need to produce on and off the court though to make that come to fruition. Luckily, he sounds more than ready to do both of those things.
“I want to continue to be a good leader and teammate,” said Cowan. “I remember being in their position not too long ago. Everything moves a lot faster, I just want to help them anyway I can on and off the court.”