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Maryland basketball: analyzing the 2016 recruiting class

Thus far, Maryland only has one commit in the 2016 recruiting class. It will be interesting to see how the remainder of the offers play out, but here are five assumptions that can be made so far!

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When looking at who Maryland basketball has offered in the class of 2016, there are a long list of names who remain uncommitted, and who Maryland will continue to pursue relentlessly. After bringing in just two players, Diamond Stone and Jaylen Brantley, in the class of 2015, there should be a higher quantity of players in 2016; and the Terps are working to ensure that the higher quantity does not mean compromising quality. Anthony Cowan, a guard out of the Washington D.C. area, is the lone commit to the class of 2016 thus far, with that being said, what are other aspects of the offers that stick out?

Maryland trying to hang with the big dogs (or cats):

The big cats reference is of course alluding to the recruiting powerhouse that is located in Lexington, KY. In the class of 2016, Maryland has offered some high caliber talent, attempting to continue the momentum that Maryland basketball currently has. It's a whole new ball game when it comes to Maryland recruiting. The Terps finished last season 2nd in the B1G conference, and showed promise. Subsequently after their loss in the NCAA tournament, Maryland received a pledge from an elite prospect in Diamond Stone. Throw in the fact that a top-tier graduate transfer in Rasheed Sulaimon decided to jump on board and the Terps are all of the sudden favorites heading into the 2015-16 season. This all means that College Park, MD becomes an attractive destination to players who are looking to show their talents on a winning team, and Maryland's coaching staff has taken advantage of that. Maryland has offered 23 players so far, and only three players have a three-star ranking; the remaining 20 have four and five-star rankings. While Maryland will continue to offer players as the recruiting process plays out, going after elite talent early on will only improve their chances of landing these players. Additionally, Maryland is getting involved with the best-of-the-best, offering the number one and number two prospects, Josh Jackson and Harry Giles, according to The Terrapins remain long shots for those two players, but the effort by Maryland to create a recruiting juggernaut is prevalent and an encouraging sign for Maryland basketball's future.

A three-guard system?

Last season, Maryland played small and went with a three-guard system. In the 2015-16 season, Maryland will take a brief hiatus from this ideology and put a true small forward at the position, in Jake Layman. However, Maryland is poised to make a return to the three-guard system with the offers they have made in the class of 2016. If all goes as expected for Maryland, the Terps will most likely see Melo Trimble depart for the NBA following his Sophomore season. This means that so far, the Terrapins would have Jaylen Brantley, Anthony Cowan, Jared Nickens, and Dion Wiley in the backcourt for the 2016-17 season. Most would look at this and expect the Terps to develop these players and potentially bring in one more to complement them. However, Maryland is heavily recruiting the guard positions for the class of 2016, as 16 of the 23 players offered so far play in the backcourt. Given the graduation of Jake Layman, the Terps will lose their small forward; and while the Terps have offered five small forwards, they remain long shots to bring any of them to Maryland. This could mean that Mark Turgeon is going to try to utilize the skill sets of guards in the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward positions. This is a tactic that worked well for Maryland when Dez Wells played the small forward position, even though his size was small for the position. If the guard that Maryland plugs into the small forward position has the athleticism and ability to defend, then a three-guard system can thrive under Mark Turgeon, it's just a matter of finding the right fit. The three guard prospects that are most likely to come to Maryland, according to the interest ratings on, are Markelle Fultz, Curtis Jones, and Brandon Robinson. Robinson, out of Georgia, has the highest interest rating among the three, and also is the tallest at 6'5", which means he is only an inch or two away from the prototypical height of a small forward. With his combo guard skill set, he appears to be a player that could fit well into a three-guard system for Mark Turgeon and the Terps.

Trying to replace Diamond Stone

While it is not a foregone conclusion that Diamond Stone will declare for the NBA draft after just one season at Maryland, it is a distinct possibility. Therefore, Maryland's coaching staff has already offered another five-star center with a lot of potential. This time his name won't garner quite as many puns as Diamond Stone, but will induce its fair share of mispronunciations. Udoka Azubuike, the number one center in the class of 2016, is being pursued by Maryland and other powerhouse programs such as Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas. The 6'10" center from Florida could continue the pipeline of high profile centers to commit to Maryland, including Alex Len and Diamond Stone. With Azubuike, the Terrapins three-guard system would allow him the space to carve out positioning on the interior and put his skilled offensive game to work. Maryland will have to show Azubuike that they can develop a center into a big time talent, and there is no easier way to do that then with the play of Diamond Stone. If Stone thrives with the Maryland team next year, it would be a win-win; because his play would enhance the Terps chances of winning and would help with the recruitment of Azubuike and other big time talent across the recruiting landscape.

Maryland comfortable with their big men depth

While the coaching staff is attempting to receive a commitment from Azubuike to potentially replace Stone, they have not put a heavy focus on the front-court as a whole. Exactly the opposite from the guard position, the Terps have offered very few from the power forward and center positions. Maryland has offered three power forwards and one center in Azubuike. Maryland will definitely have Ivan Bender, Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd when the class of 2016 arrives. Additionally, they will most likely have Robert Carter as well, depending if his play in the 2015-16 season is deserving of an NBA draft selection. They may have Diamond Stone, but that is far from certain, again depending on how he plays in the upcoming season. With all of this being said, it seems as if Mark Turgeon is confident in the development of the big men for next year, and years to come. Bender is a mystery, as many don't know what he will bring to the table for Maryland. Cekovsky showed flashes of ability defensively, he just needs to work on his coordination, strength and his offensive game. While Cekovsky not have the potential of Alex Len, the same was said about Len after his inaugural season with the Terps. Dodd had a few big games for the Terps, including against Michigan State, and Minnesota where he looked like a defensive force, but then struggled at other times. If Dodd can improve his offensive abilities and stay away from foul trouble he can provide depth to the Maryland team. Carter has earned an abundance of hype since transferring to Maryland because of his rebounding and offensive ability, including showing a competency of shooting the mid-range jumper. Stone will be an important piece to the 2015-16 team, and if all goes well, it is expected that the members of the class of 2016 will not play with him at Maryland.