Following Maryland’s loss to Alabama in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, head coach Kevin Willard left with one major takeaway: he needed to add athleticism.
“The biggest thing that I realized was that we just weren’t athletic enough at times,” he said. “And Alabama was probably the most athletic team in the country last year, so it was a little bit of a mismatch.”
Willard addressed that need via the transfer portal with forward Jordan Geronimo. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Geronimo adds a level of physicality and athleticism Maryland did not have last season.
“We really wanted to have someone that knew how to play the game, but at the same time could really help us athletically,” Willard said. “... Jordan’s as athletic as a player as I’ve seen in a while.”
During his three years at Indiana, Geronimo played in 82 games, making six starts. Last season, he averaged 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
His greatest impact will come from his defensive versatility, though, with Willard able to use him to guard virtually any position on the floor.
“I call him a Swiss Army knife. He can kind of do a little bit of everything,” Willard said.
Of Maryland’s three transfers, Geronimo will likely see the most playing time. He has a chance to earn a starting role, and projects at a minimum to be a major contributor off the bench.
Willard also beefed up the front court this offseason with the addition of Mady Traoré, a 6-foot-11 transfer from New Mexico State. A three-star recruit in the class of 2022, Traoré was the No. 6 overall prospect in the state of Maryland, according to the 247Sports Composite.
He played sparingly in his lone season with the Aggies, in part due to the cancellation of their season on Feb. 12 after hazing allegations surfaced and head coach Greg Heiar was fired. In seven appearances, he averaged only 1.4 points and 0.4 rebounds per game.
Traoré looks to back up Reese and Caelum Swanton-Rodger at center, at least to begin the season.
“I think everyone needs to take a big deep breath with Mady and just everyone be patient with him,” Willard said. “Because he has the talent, the athleticism, the length to be a superstar, in my opinion, but it’s just gonna take him a little time to adjust from not really playing last year — having a very difficult situation — to now coming into the highest level of basketball.”
Loyola Marymount transfer Chance Stephens would have provided Maryland with some much-needed shooting following the losses of Ian Martinez and Don Carey, but will likely be stashed as a long-term option for the Terps after he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon during a summer workout.
Last year, Stephens averaged 6.0 points per game, shooting 37.4% from three.
Transfers, along with Swanton-Rodger, Jahari Long and Noah Batchelor, provide Maryland the added depth it needs.
Willard admitted that last year, his rotations could only go as deep as seven players. “This year,” he said, “you know, I could see us going nine, 10, 11 [players deep] at times.”