Maryland's first year in the Big Ten exceeded expectations behind a stellar freshman season from Melo Trimble and a strong swan song from Dez Wells, with the Terrapins also set to expect an improvement in year two. Trimble surprisingly decided to stay for his sophomore year and while Dez Wells departed for the NBA, the addition of high school destroyer of worlds Diamond Stone signals a continued run at the top of the Big Ten in 2015-16.
Stone stands 6'10 and ticks in at 250 pounds, so he'll immediately be among the Big Ten's biggest frontline players. According to ESPN, he's the sixth best overall player and second best center (which seems a little suspect because Skal Labissiere should probably play the four, given the fact he weighs all of 210 pounds). Stone has the potential to be a perfect center in today's basketball universe. Let's take a look:
Stone already has an impressive array of post moves, especially considering his size. He can catch the ball on either block and back down defenders to within a few feet of the hoop, where he can finish over them with a hook shot that admittedly needs some work. His spin move sticks out immediately as his best low post tool, though. He's incredibly nimble for his size and can absolutely explode off the floor once he gets a step past his defenders. That's going to serve him well next year because, as we saw with Jahlil Okafor last year, quick big men with polished post games can wreak havoc on typically smaller defenders that haven't had to deal with good post players for most of their careers.
Catch and Finish / Pick and Roll
If you watch any tape on Stone you see an overwhelming amount of quick catch and finish plays or thunderous putbacks. It'll get a little more difficult for Stone next year to find wide open lanes even though Maryland is going to have a couple good three point shooters to space the floor. Given his athleticism, though, I don't foresee him struggling to rack up 6-8 points a game on putbacks or alley oops. He's going to have to work on his pick and roll game a bit, but having sharpshooting / pick-and-roll extraordinaire Melo Trimble as a partner will almost undoubtedly make for a terrifying pick and roll combo. We all know what Trimble can do, but watch enough of Stone and you can see that on pick and rolls he'll be able to get to the rim in a flash and finish over defenders or even pull up from 18 feet and knock down a good percentage of shots. That's almost unheard of in college basketball these days.
This is the most surprising aspect of his game; not only can he run the floor with the guards and finish with authority (not all that unexpected), but he can actually lead the break. His ball handling must have had teams salivating during his recruitment: he can go behind his back (albeit not all that gracefully) at full speed and then hit the trailer for an open layup on the break. No one should be able to do that at Stone's size at his age.
I mentioned Okafor earlier, but Okafor came into school about 20 lbs heavier and with a post game polished enough to succeed in the NBA immediately. Stone's not that polished (yet), but he can shoot, dribble, finish with authority, and block shots around the rim. I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of a more skilled Eddy Curry or a less athletic Chris Webber. Curry had a similar build, Webber had a similar skill set. Stone's ceiling is sky high, though I don't know if it's as high as Webber's was, but his floor is certainly higher than Curry's.
Stone is going to have to work on team defense and rebounding consistently against better competition, but he's going to be a college star, especially at the side of perimeter assassin Melo Trimble. Maryland is going to be so much fun next year.