Diamond Stone, who is the sixth best-ranked recruit for 2015, and second best center according to the 247 composite rankings, chose Maryland over his hometown school, the University of Wisconsin Badgers on March 27. UConn, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Duke, Georgetown, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Marquette, Michigan State, North Carolina, UCLA, Texas A&M, San Jose State, Depaul and Cal Poly; Diamond Stone said no to all of them.
The 6-foot-10 250-pound big man is exactly what the Terps need next year – and frankly what they needed for this past season too – an offensively capable and strong body to hold down the middle and win games with his offensive fundamentals.
Though he’s only 18 years old, Stone has done a lot of winning already.
He was named Wisconsin’s co-Mr. Basketball, an award given to the state’s best player, alongside Marquette commit Henry Ellenson.
He led his high school team, Dominican, to four straight championships. In this year’s championship game he lead his team in scoring and rebounding with 23 points and 15 rebounds, also swatting a pair of shots in a 26-point blowout victory. He played with Kostas Antentokounmpo, younger brother of the Milwaukee Bucks breakout player Giannis Antentokounmpo, who led the team in blocks with three.
He won two gold medals at the FIBA World Championships in consecutive summers on Team USA’s U16 and U17 teams. In five starts with the U16 team he averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds on 54 percent shooting and added 2.6 blocks.
In seven starts with the U17 team he averaged 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds on 51.9 percent shooting with 3.3 blocks. He was named to the All-Tournament team.
To continue Stone’s winning ways, head coach Mark Turgeon will have to revamp his entire offensive scheme, however. When the Terps played big last year, they relied on two centers known solely for their defense. Michal Cekovsky and Damonte Dodd combined for just 6.6 points per game and only 11.7% of the team’s field goal attempts.
The ball mostly moved across the perimeter, leading Maryland to finish fourth in the Big Ten in three-point attempts. That ranking will probably fall, as the ball works its way inside to Stone and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter Jr.
Dez Wells’ team-leading 11.3 shot attempts per game will be split among the big men, finding their way closer to the rim in the new twin-tower frontcourt.
Just how big is the tallest of the towers? He’s massive. Last summer with USA basketball, he measured 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-3.5-inch wingspan. He also grew an entire two inches more from the summer before, which may indicate he’s not done.
Stone is big, skilled and one of the most hyped Maryland basketball recruits in recent memory, but he isn’t perfect, and is likely to be hit with unfair expectations early in the season.
Here's a breakdown of Stone's performance on the U17 team last summer.
Maryland fans should be counting down the days until Diamond Stone’s first collegiate start. He’s a promising young big man who should flow well with already proven point guard Melo Trimble.
Enjoy him while he’s here, though, as he’ll have several million reasons to leave school, as he’s already projected as a lottery pick for next season. Let’s hope if he does leave early, it’s with another trophy in his hands.