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Maryland basketball’s Diamond Stone needs work, but he could score a bunch of NBA points

The book on Maryland's five-star center-turned NBA prospect.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Diamond Stone committed to Maryland’s basketball program a bit late in the recruiting year, on March 27, 2015. He was Maryland’s highest-rated recruit in recent memory, a consensus top-10 player and either the best or second best center in the 2015 class, depending on which analyst you asked. He gave the Terps legitimate national title hopes and helped raise expectations to a new place for Mark Turgeon’s team.

What actually happened didn’t quite reach lofty expectations. But Stone still had a solid lone year in college before declaring for the NBA Draft, which is on Thursday night in New York. Stone averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Terrapins, shooting 57 percent from the field and 76 percent from the foul line.

With Stone about to start his pro career, here’s a bit on where he stands:

The basics

Age: 19
Height without shoes: 6’9
Weight: 254.4 pounds
Wingspan: 7 feet, 2.5 inches
Body fat: 12.5 percent

What’s good?

Stone is preternaturally gifted around the basket and has excellent touch that should make him a post scoring threat for a long time. He showed aptitude at Maryland as a high ball screener who could then roll toward the basket.

He’s got the offensive skill to basically take over games. True, Penn State isn’t exactly the San Antonio Spurs, but look at some of the stuff he did to the Nittany Lions when he set a Maryland freshman record by scoring 39 points in one game against them.

Stone had generally efficient offensive numbers at Maryland. He had a quality 114 offensive rating and a 12.9 percent offensive rebound rate, although many of his boards were simply follows on his own misses. He made free throws, too, which is no small thing for a college big man.

What’s bad?

Stone’s conditioning needs to be a lot better than it sometimes looked at Maryland. Nobody expects big centers to run like gazelles down the court, but Stone sometimes slowed down Maryland in transition and wasn’t a baseline-to-baseline threat. He’s very much a pure center and probably cannot play much power forward at the next level.

His defensive rebounding needs work, too. His 15.3 percent rate on that end of the floor was unremarkable, and he didn’t do a lot to body away smaller and less talented offensive rebounders. He also demonstrated close to no passing ability out of the post.

What’s next?

A terrific question, because Stone could go anywhere. Centers will never stop being in demand, and Stone could plausibly fit on just about any roster in the league. It does seem unlikely he’d be popular with teams built on pace, which might rule out destinations like Sacramento, Boston and Golden State.

DraftExpress currently has Stone sneaking into the end of the first round, No. 29 overall to the San Antonio Spurs. It’d be surprising if Stone went in the lottery or didn’t get drafted at all, but nothing in between would be all that shocking.

(If you’re interested, I answered a few questions for the Atlanta Hawks’ official site about Stone a few weeks ago. The thing most striking about that to me was that an in-house media reporter thought Stone was relevant enough to the Hawks to reach out for a Q&A about him. Stone also worked out for the club.)

Who’s a decent NBA comparison?

Al Jefferson, the veteran center now with the Hornets, seems like one. Both are back-to-the-basket-type centers who don’t run the floor much but can fill the basket and change games offensively. If Stone has Jefferson’s career, he’ll surely take it.