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Maryland basketball has a project in the works with Micah Thomas

He’ll have to fill out his skinny frame to reach his potential.

Scenes From Maryland's 95-61 Win Over Catawba Sammi Silber / Testudo Times

Tall, slender, knockdown three-point shooter. That’s the identity with which coach Mark Turgeon seems to want Maryland basketball’s wings to become synonymous. He had that in Jake Layman, and now he has another long-term project in freshman forward Micah Thomas.

Thomas’s arms are impossibly long and filled with promise. His frame is a dream for the top of a zone or for cutting off slashers on their path to the bucket. He told Testudo Times he stands 6’6.5 with a 7’2 wingspan, which is longer than Layman (6’9.25), and on par with Diamond Stone (7’2.75), Robert Carter Jr. (7’3’.25), all of whom stand much taller than him.

“I think Micah has a chance to be one of the all-time great defenders if he decides that’s what he wants to do,” said Turgeon. “He’s got incredible hands, incredible feet. He gets all kinds of deflections.”

But Thomas isn’t ready yet. His name was noticeably absent when Turgeon listed the freshmen he envisioned getting serious minutes and came in with the walk-ons in Maryland’s first exhibition game. Thomas knows his slim body is what’s holding him back right now, and he needs to gain weight to be able to absorb contact.

So like the many before him, he’s been a target of Director of Basketball Operations Kyle Tarp, who is well-known for improving the physical health of Layman and Damonte Dodd among others.

Tarps’ success in that department was a big draw to Thomas, who committed to Maryland without visiting the campus once.

“I’ve been to so many colleges I knew campus was going to be campus. It’s just the players and the coaches that made the difference,” said Thomas.

The freshman knows first-hand what’s in store for him. Hee’s been in contact with now-Portland Trail Blazer Layman since before he made his commitment official, as well as Diamond Stone and Rasheed Sulaimon. Layman left him some wisdom.

“He said to stay consistent with Kyle [Tarp] and do everything Kyle tells you to do. He said his freshman year he didn’t do everything right, but his junior and senior years he said he thought he did everything Kyle told him to do and that’s when it showed off the most.”

Thomas was exhausted just listing Tarp’s daily food requirements.

“Three meals a day, a morning shake. [I’m] constantly eating, don’t stop eating, then [I] work out with [Tarp] and drink another shake,” he said.

He’s been doing his best, though the protein supplements don’t always agree with him.

“It’s hard because I love to eat, but the shakes kind of mess with your stomach. It’s a whole lot of protein and there’s like 1,300 calories and I’m drinking three of them a day.”

Turgeon admitted to being a little hard on Thomas, but the sixth-year coach has an eye for talent.

“He probably thinks I’m crazy right now. I’m just trying to instill some work habits in him,” said Turgeon. “But he’s got phenomenal talent, and he can really shoot the ball and make big shots.”

His role may not come this year, but as Maryland inches towards a season without Melo Trimble it will have to revamp its entire identity. Long wings with knockdown three-point shooting abilities who can apply defensive pressure may be the answer, and Thomas has to be ready. He’s a piece a program like Maryland, which can’t rely on one-and-done players, can take its time with and not rush onto the court.

With any luck, Turgeon might have found a hidden jewel for years to come.