After a tumultuous, weird offseason that I'd rather not rehash yet again, the Maryland basketball program received fantastic news Friday when Georgia Tech transfer forward Robert Carter Jr. committed to the Terps after completing an official visit.
I'm going to delve into some wonkiness later in this post, but let me first start with the basics. Carter is good...really good. I said this on Twitter and I'll reiterate it here - he's, in my mind, probably the best possible "2015 recruit" Maryland could possibly have gotten.
They're in the running for some high level high school talent - Esa Ahmad, Allonzo Trier, Georgios Papagiannis and Diamond Stone are all top 100 2015 players - but I would always rather prefer a proven college player with multiple years of eligibility over a high school player, even a 5-star recruit.
Not only is Carter proven, he fills a major position of need. He's an athletic, skilled power forward the likes of which Maryland hasn't had in many, many years. He's a taller Jordan Williams with a jump shot and better ups. If you could go into a lab and design the perfect addition to a front court of Damonte Dodd, Trayvon Reed and Michal Cekovsky, you'd create Robert Carter Jr.
Carter's averaged 10.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and shot 45.6% for his two year career at Georgia Tech. Where did those points come from? According to Hoop-Math.com 28.3% of his shots came at the rim (hitting 67.9%), 48% on two-point jumpers (hitting 45.3%) and 23.7% on three-pointers (hitting 23.4%).
These numbers tell us that Carter is a balanced offensive player, but looks for a mid-range jumper as his primary weapon. In terms of the type of team he'll be joining at Maryland, this is ideal.
So what does the roster look like now?
I know it seems somewhat contrary to what I wrote about Richaud Pack and his incredibly efficient game of shooting basically only three pointers and shots around the rim. In some ways, you're right, made up argumentative person, but let me explain. In the comments of that article I said that while generally you want players shooting threes if they're going to shoot jumpers at all, what you really want is players taking the shots they are going to hit most often. If a guy can hit threes consistently, take threes, if he can't, don't. If a player, like Carter, can consistently drain shots from mid-range, you should encourage him to do so -- and adding dimensions to your team's offense is always a good idea.
The catch is that these days players that thrive from 8-18 feet are rarer and rarer, especially in college. If you can get one of them, and pair them with guards that are threats from deep and big men that can bang down low and clean up around the rim, that's what we in The Biz call "good spacing".
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Good court spacing occurs when each of the players on the court compliment each other and don't need to occupy the same areas. An example of bad spacing would be having Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare as the 4-5, with Roddy Peters and Dez Wells at the 1 and the 2. All four of those players thrive around the basket and thus occupy the same space. The best example of perfect spacing is the San Antonio Spurs with a lineup of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan. Each of those player's game fit together like a puzzle, no one is ever in each other's way or forcing the other out of position to be effective. That may seem like a tangent, but to understand exactly how Carter will benefit Maryland the most, you have to understand how he fits within the team. A player like Carter, who brings a mid-range element offensively the Terps haven't had since Dino Gregory, is incredibly valuable to a team that is already stacked with shooters and 7-footers.
The area of Carter's game that's been most overlooked is his defense. His freshman defensive rating (DRtg) of 92.2 was the fourth best in the ACC and his career DRtg of 95.1 bests everyone on the Maryland roster besides Varun Ram (94.4). In terms of rebounding, which I consider part of defense, he had a rebounding percentage (TRB%) last season of 18.3%, which would have been second only behind Charles Mitchell's 19.1%. He has 10 double-doubles in his career and his best overall game might have been against Maryland in 2013, where he put up 19 points and 10 rebounds on 63.6% shooting in 25 minutes. That was about a week after Maryland beat #2 Duke and probably knocked them to the bad side of the NCAA Tournament bubble for good.
So, in summation of the above: Carter brings a consistent midrange game, which provides an opportunity for really nice offensive floor spacing, he's an above-average defender and he's an elite-level college rebounder. This highlight also demonstrates that he's athletic and explosive. You're allowed to start salivating now, but please consult your doctor to check if 18 months of salivating is healthy.
Now, this news does come at a price. Carter will not be eligible to play for a year, taking up a valuable scholarship spot during a vital season. He also has a history of injury, something Maryland fans do not want to hear after the Terp injury problems of the last few seasons.
That said, Carter was in no uncertain terms a massive pick-up for Mark Turgeon and the program. He's an ideal fit with the roster, he get's a year to sit out and fully heal from some nagging injuries and hone his game, and he already has high hopes for his time in College Park.
Just talked to Robert Carter. Says Terps will be in position to win Big Ten and challenge for an NCAA title in 2015-16.Said he liked SJU too— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) June 6, 2014
A national title? Obviously that's a lofty goal for a team that hasn't even made the tournament since 2010, but with Carter on board, the combination of talent and experience on the 2015-2016 team will rival any in the country.