Diamond Stone, center, No. 33
Collegiate Stats: n/a
Recruiting Ratings: 5 stars, No. 6 player, No. 2 center, No. 1 player in Wisconsin in 2015.
Who did Maryland beat out? Virtually every big name program in the nation. His top five included Maryland, Duke, Wisconsin, UConn and Oklahoma State. Kentucky, Arizona, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina and UCLA are just a handful of the schools that Maryland beat out.
High School: Dominican HS
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
How'd He Get to College Park?
Stone grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, developing into one of the nation's most sought after big men. Even with the likes of Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and other prominent program recruiting him, many believed Stone would ultimately end up playing for the hometown Badgers.
Maryland began recruiting Stone during his freshman year, when assistant coach Bino Ranson stumbled across him while on a recruiting trip in Wisconsin to see point guard Duane Wilson. Ranson was really the key player in ultimately convincing Stone and his parents that Maryland was the best school for him.
Robert Stone, Diamond's father, talked about how many of the schools were very similar in what they could offer. But what put Maryland over the top might have been its ability to demonstrate how Turgeon and his staff transformed Alex Len from a somewhat unknown commodity from Ukraine into a top-five NBA draft pick.
In the end, Stone chose Maryland over Wisconsin, giving the Terps one of their highest ranked basketball commitments in years, while also making this year's team into a legitimate national title contender.
Stone provides Maryland with the final piece it was missing in the middle on offense last year, creating opportunities for Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter. He dominates inside in both scoring and on the glass, averaging a double-double during his freshman campaign. He continues to improve as the season progresses, especially on the defensive end, and helps anchor Maryland's stacked front court. After an amazing freshman year, he's selected in the top-ten of the 2016 NBA draft.
Diamond Stone is good. He's really good. He is super skilled around the basket and is arguably Maryland's most talented center, specifically on offense, since Lonny Baxter. He gives Maryland a legitimate, consistent scoring threat under the basket, something that the Terps lacked last season. He has also demonstrated an great ability to capitalize on missed shots from teammates, frequently making tip-in and putback shots. But Stone will benefit Maryland not just in how many points he can score and the number of rebounds he can grab, but also in how he can execute it's offense this year.
Last season, Maryland relied heavily on Dez Wells, Jake Layman and Melo Trimble for their offensive production, with each frequently being asked to win a one-on-one match-up with their defender in order to get to the hoop and score. Those three players combined to take just under 54% of Maryland's shot attempts last year. The Terps' primary contributors at the center position last season, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, attempted just over eight and a half percent of the team's shots and accounted for just under nine percent of their scoring offense. With Stone in the mix, that will all change for Maryland.
Stone will allow Maryland to more greatly utilize pick-and-roll plays, create space for Trimble and Sulaimon to drive to the rim, and help pull perimeter defenders into the lane, giving the Terps more open looks from beyond the arc.
While Stone's offense game is impressive, he needs to continue to improve on the defensive end.
"He's a really talented kid," head coach Mark Turgeon said in a recent interview with Testudo Times. "I think, defensively, that's where he has to come in for us. He knows that, but he's a talented kid. Offensively, he's really, really skilled and has a great feel for the game."
Stone will have to continue to improve his defense as the season progresses but fortunately for Maryland, Damonte Dodd can step in when necessary and act as a rim protector.
Our next player was arguably one of the biggest reasons Maryland was able to have such a successful season last year.