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Diamond Stone's impact on Maryland basketball recruiting

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Diamond Stone is a Terp! But how will his decision impact the recruiting for the men's basketball program?

Days before Diamond Stone's commitment, fans expected to see an uptick in Maryland's basketball recruiting. Mark Turgeon had a good recruiting class last year, which helped revitalize the program in a big way. The team finished the season with a record of 28-7, was ranked in the Associated Press top 10, finished in second place in the Big Ten, returned to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Round of 32. That all looks great to high school prospects, especially the local players who have seen Maryland play as a dysfunctional team for the last few years.

In Diamond Stone's commitment, Maryland receives a massive piece for the recruiting class of 2015 and the recruiting classes of 2016 and beyond. Stone will inevitably be a key contributor for Maryland's 2015-16 team. His decision also puts Maryland back on the recruiting landscape for high-profile recruits.

As the seventh best prospect, according to ESPN.com, and fifth best prospect, according to 247sports.com, Diamond Stone represents the highest-rated player to commit to play at Maryland since the 1970s. Maryland now has McDonald's All-Americans in back-to-back years after a drought that dated back to 2003, when Mike Jones chose to play for the Terrapins.

Many consider Stone to be a "one-and-done" player, which is unchartered territory for Maryland basketball. The fact that Maryland recruited a player with "one-and-done" talent is something new for its recruiting strategy. Although, it still remains to be seen if Stone will play in the NBA after just one season in College Park. Many could make the argument that Melo Trimble had the potential to declare for the NBA Draft this year, which would make him a "one-and-done" player; but Maryland did not recruit Trimble and expect him to play up to a level, that was at times, worthy of NBA Draft consideration.

Obviously, Stone's impact on the 2015 recruiting class is drastic. This is Maryland's second commitment, along with junior college point guard, Jaylen Brantley. According to class rankings on ESPN.com, Maryland went from having a class ranked outside of the top 40, to the 36th best recruiting class in the nation. This is especially impressive because, as of now, the Terrapins have only two commitments. With last year's great recruiting class and this year's recruiting class teaming up, this Maryland team will be fun to watch.

Next year's recruiting class should be great as well, with Anthony Cowan Jr. already committed and Turgeon's staff pursuing other elite talent. Should Stone help Maryland win this season and play well, other elite recruits will decide that Maryland can help them improve their draft stock all while playing for a great team.

Stone's commitment will be a gateway for other elite prospects, McDonald's All-Americans, or "one-and-done" players to consider Maryland as the best choice for them. To show Stone's impact on the recruits of the present and future, Maryland commits and recruits will be highlighted over the course of this article.

Class of 2015

Jaylen Brantley

Brantley was Maryland's only commitment of the 2015 class before Stone committed. Brantley represents the backup point guard that Maryland desperately lacked last season behind Trimble. Stone's commitment makes Brantley a hero to Terps fans, even before playing a game in a Maryland uniform. Brantley met Stone during his visit to College Park for Maryland Madness. Since then, Brantley has played a major role in persuading Stone to be his teammate. On the court, Stone's commitment should not impact Brantley much at all. His role will be the backup point guard and at times play point guard while Trimble plays off the ball. Stone will provide Brantley with an additional offensive force to pass the ball to and rack up assists. Also, because of Stone, the bench becomes better. Diamond Stone will start -- as he should. However, this means that Damonte Dodd is now forced to come off the bench. With Brantley, Dodd, Michal Cekovsky and Dion Wiley all coming off the bench, Maryland has quality depth for Brantley to play with.

Yankuba Sima

Sima was long viewed as the player that was more likely to come to Maryland between Stone and himself. Now that Stone committed, Sima coming to Maryland is unlikely. Sima would be a great addition to the Terps as he rebounds well, plays hard and blocks shots. However, at this point, the numbers don't quite add up. Maryland now has a front court rotation of: Stone, Carter, Dodd, Cekovsky and Ivan Bender. There's only 40 minutes per game to go around and unfortunately, those minutes are becoming tight. Maryland now has just three scholarships remaining and one more of those could be taken by Varun Ram, if he wants it. Maryland seems more likely to add a wing to the backcourt, either by way of a graduate transfer or another recruit. Sima will most likely choose between Arizona, Baylor or Louisville.

Malik Ellison

The backup wing position could very well be filled by Malik Ellison. Ellison is a 6'6" guard/forward who provides athleticism, finishing ability and is a capable three-point shooter. Many have pegged Minnesota as the favorite to land Ellison, but Turgeon's staff could make a late run at Ellison if it's still high on his game. With Stone's commitment, Turgeon and company can turn their attention to other needs. Stone was clearly the first priority for the Terps, but now they can look to improve other areas of the roster. Personally, I expect Maryland to try to fill the need of a wing player through a graduate transfer.

Class of 2016

Anthony Cowan Jr.

Stone's commitment will have no impact on the recruiting of Anthony Cowan Jr., as he is already committed to play for Maryland. However, it provides Cowan with a little extra to add to his own recruiting pitch. Since committing to play for Maryland in late January, Cowan has been talking to other players in his recruiting class and trying to get them to join him. Stone's commitment will give Cowan an example of an NBA-bound player deciding to use Maryland as the stepping stone between high school and the NBA. Cowan will provide Maryland with the ability to score and make plays for others when he arrives on campus in 2016. He is certainly a player to be excited about, and Stone's commitment will only help him bring other players along with him.

Markelle Fultz

One player that Cowan has been trying to persuade to join him in College Park is Markelle Fultz. The DeMatha standout is ranked as the 55th best player according to ESPN, and is considering Maryland along with many other schools. Fultz was in attendance when Maryland beat Wisconsin in February. He got the chance to see the Terps play in the great College Park atmosphere and beat a quality opponent. Fultz has great talent, who plays hard on both ends of the floor. The 6'4" combo guard averaged 17 points, six assists and eight rebounds in his junior season. He is said to be willing to hustle, defend and work hard; which are all attributes of a winner. With Stone's commitment, Maryland will become a winner. Fultz is considering other schools like Arizona, Georgetown, Washington and Xavier. Thanks to Stone, Fultz will see that the best chance for him to win is in College Park.

Curtis Jones

On Feb. 28, Curtis Jones was in attendance to watch Maryland's game against Michigan along with Cowan. Jones is ranked as the 53rd best prospect in 2016, according to ESPN recruiting rankings. Jones is yet another guard that Maryland is recruiting for the class of 2016. Stone's recruitment should have just about the same impact as it does for Fultz. Jones is looking at schools such as Indiana, NC State, Virginia and West Virginia. In addition, he visited Kentucky and Louisville, but has yet to receive offers from those schools. Based on his list, Jones is interested in successful basketball programs. With Stone's commitment and the success of last year's team, he should realize that the corner has been turned for Maryland basketball and it will be a successful basketball program for years to come.

Udoka Azubuike

Along with a difficult name to pronounce, Azubuike has a big frame (6'10", 275 pounds) and a lot of athleticism. It may seem odd that the No. 10 recruit in the nation, according to ESPN, has only played organized basketball for three years. Azubuike has raw talent and he is working hard to maximize his potential. In the school list for Azubuike, there are elite programs like Connecticut, Kansas and Kentucky. However, Azubuike also has Maryland listed as a potential suitor in the list of eight schools. Stone's commitment provides Azubuike with an opportunity to see how Turgeon utilizes a star center, as well as a chance to see how Turgeon can help a big man develop. Stone's play in Turgeon's system will be a crucial factor if the Terps want to fend off the other elite programs for Azubike's services in 2016.

Class of 2017

Class of 2017 prospects certainly have a long time before their recruitment becomes very serious, as they are still in the early stages of the recruiting process. The guards of this class will be encouraged if Dez Wells is drafted in the 2015 NBA Draft because he developed in his time at College Park. They will also monitor the development of Nickens, Trimble and Wiley. They will certainly follow the moves of the class of 2016, because if there is a surplus of guards at Maryland, they may look elsewhere. Small forwards in this class will look at Jake Layman and how he is used in his more natural small forward position in the 2015-16 season. They will watch his development and if Layman is drafted in the 2016 NBA Draft, that will be an encouraging sign for them. Myles Douglas, a four-star small forward from Baltimore, currently holds an offer in the class of 2017; he's a big name to watch. Power forwards and centers will have their eyes glued to the ways that Turgeon uses Bender, Carter, Cekovsky, Dodd and Stone. They will also watch to see how they are rotated in and out over the course of the games. If Turgeon can show the recruits that they can still contribute to the team with a deep front court, then they will be encouraged by what Maryland has to offer. If Stone decides to leave Maryland after one season, big men in the class of 2017 will consider his development and if Maryland maximized Stone's draft stock.

There is a lot to be excited about with the Maryland basketball program. Next year's squad looks like a team that can match up well against almost any team. The recruiting will continue to be great, so long as the team continues to provide results on the court. Diamond Stone will be a big time player for the University of Maryland and his commitment will work wonders for this program.

Here is an updated look at the scholarship chart for Maryland basketball. Seniors are in orange, juniors are in red, sophomores are in black and freshmen are in blue. Green means there is still scholarship availability.