The decisions of Robert Carter Jr. Diamond Stone and Melo Trimble (though he could return) to enter the NBA Draft have left the Maryland basketball program with a problem. The Terps don't have enough big men.
Whether Trimble comes back to school or not, Maryland's guard depth stacks up fairly well. A lot depends on two four-star freshmen, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter, but the Terps have three relatively experienced guards hanging around anyway. The guard play shouldn't be bad, even without Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon.
But the story in the frontcourt is a lot different. Maryland heads into the offseason with just three traditional big men, none of whom has ever averaged more than 16 minutes in a collegiate season. European rising redshirt sophomore Ivan Bender is the only power forward left on the roster, while Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky are the centers.
Here are their career averages:
Out of a possible 72 game appearances last year, Cekovsky (29) and Bender (10) made only slightly more than half.
Maryland's had success before with Dodd and Cekovsky playing at the five position. They were Maryland's primary centers in 2014-15, when Trimble, Jake Layman and Dez Wells pushed Maryland into the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Mark Turgeon. But the Terps' roster had a different shape back then; Layman played power forward, while Evan Smotrycz and Jon Graham both chipped in plenty at center. Right now, Maryland has no such backup plans.
The Terps are fortunate to have at least three scholarship spots open to address what's become a seriously unbalanced roster in light of Stone and Carter's departures. 247Sports reports Maryland has interest in Luke Garza, an unrated 6'10 center from the Maret School in Washington, but doesn't list significant Maryland interest in any other 2016 big men right now. If Maryland's going to add an immediate-impact freshman big man for next season, it's hard to guess who that'd be.
Maryland probably needs a graduate transfer big man to be much good in 2016-17.
It's possible to win games without a lot of big men. Maryland's 2014-15 squad was likable and won 28 games despite not having a serious post scoring presence on the court most of the time. (Layman created his offense from the wing, even as he played defense in the post.) But Dodd and Cekovsky are not offensively inclined, and Bender is skilled but lanky and untested. It's hard to see Maryland's guards being good enough to lug an offense to efficiency with this group of bigs.
This leaves Maryland in obvious search of a transfer who could graduate from his current school and thus be eligible to play immediately. There are a few options on the market, though it isn't clear if Maryland has interest in any player in particular. Via ESPN's Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello, here's a list of graduate transfer bigs at this moment:
Kale Abrahamson, 6-8, F, Jr., Drake
Austin Arians, 6-6, F, Jr., Milwaukee
Nick Banyard, 6-8, F, RS Jr., Illinois State
Canyon Barry, 6-5, SG, RS Jr., Charleston -- considering Cal, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, Miami, Northwestern, Ole Miss
Milos Cabarkapa, 6-11, C, RS Soph., Central Michigan
Darion Clark, 6-7, F, RS Jr., USC
Talbott Denny, 6-6, PF, Sr., Lipscomb
Connor Devine, 6-10, C, Jr., South Dakota State -- ALASKA ANCHORAGE (D-II)
L.G. Gill, 6-7, F, Jr., Duquesne
Derail Green, 6-7, F, RS Jr., Incarnate Word
Merrill Holden, 6-8, PF, RS Jr., Louisiana Tech
Valentine Izundu, 6-10, C, RS Jr., Washington State
Christian Jones, 6-7, PF, RS Jr., St. John's
Marvin Jones, 6-10, C, RS Jr., Kent State
Michael Kessens, 6-9, F, RS Jr., Alabama -- considering FIU, UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine, Wichita State, Dayton, UC Riverside
Anthony Livingston, 6-8, PF, Jr., Arkansas State
J.J. N'Ganga, 6-10, C, Sr., New Mexico
Chris Reyes, 6-7, PF, Jr., Utah
Chad Rykhoek, 6-11, C, Jr., Baylor (2 years left)
Aaron Scales, 6-9, C, Jr., Cleveland State
LaRon Smith, 6-8, C, Jr., Bethune Cookman
Justus Stanback, 6-9, F, Jr., IUPUI (two years remaining)
Andre Washington, 7-0, C, Sr., Wake Forest
Tafari Whittingham, 6-8, F, Jr., South Alabama
Johnny Zuppardo, 6-8, F, Jr., Mississippi State
There's also this, from CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein:
UNLV's Ben Carter will be eligible to graduate and transfer, sources told @CBSSports. Averaged 8.6 PPG and 6.0 RPG this past season.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 12, 2016
There's a pretty big pool of players. Maryland has flexibility, and that's good, but it has a shortage of size and scoring ability in the frontcourt. That's bad, but it's early. Turgeon won't have the sort of post offensive ability on his next roster that he had on his last one, but his task now is to fill the Stone and Carter void as much as he possibly can.