Welcome back to our 2017-18 basketball preview. This week, we’re breaking down our roster preview by position, we started with the point guards, and today, we’re on to shooting guards.
Maryland basketball enters the 2017-18 season with unknowns and question marks all over the place. The starting lineup seems fairly simple to project, and fans should expect big things out of the sophomore trio of Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson. But these guys can’t play all 40 minutes, and that’s where things get dicey.
Behind Huerter, the only other true shooting guard on the roster is Dion Wiley, whose struggle to return to 100 percent has been a long, arduous process. There’s no guarantee he returns to form this season, though he did look pretty good in the team’s Maryland Madness scrimmage, which should still be taken with a grain of salt. If he’s serviceable, Maryland would be in a good position, depth-wise. If he doesn’t it looks as if there’d have to be a convoluted assortment of rotating players to eat up whatever minutes Huerter can’t play at the two.
The starter: Kevin Huerter, No. 4
Hometown: Clifton Park, New York
High School: Shenendehowa Central
Measurables: 6’7, 190
2016-17 stats: 9.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 4.9 rpg, 42.0 FG%, 37.1 3pt%, .97 spg, 0.69 bpg.
Huerter, who started every game as a true freshman, returns as arguably the team’s most well-rounded player. With a year of college basketball and some United States U-19 National Team experience under his belt, he’s poised to lead this young Maryland squad.
Last season, with Cowan and Melo Trimble splitting on-ball and off-ball duties, Huerter was often pushed to small forward, forcing Justin Jackson to to play a stretch-four. This year, with Trimble gone, the Terps can play a bit of a bigger lineup, with Huerter and Jackson at the two and three, respectively. Huerter will also likely guard the other team’s most prolific off-ball scorer, unless it’s a power forward or center.
Huerter proved himself as a viable offensive threat last season, and is the team’s third-highest returning scorer, with 9.3 points per game. He was also second on the team in 3-point percentage among players who took over 40 shots from downtown. He’ll likely play a similar role this season, and it looks like he picked up where he left off last season, scoring 12 points and pulling down seven rebounds in the team’s secret scrimmage against Wake Forest.
The backup: Dion Wiley, No. 5
Hometown: Oxon Hill, Maryland
High School: Potomac
Year: Redshirt junior
Measurables: 6’4, 210
2016-17 stats: 3.2 ppg, 0.6 apg, 1.5 rpg, 32.2 FG%, 37.5 3pt%, .2 spg, 0.2 bpg.
After missing his second season at Maryland due to a knee injury, Wiley’s redshirt sophomore year was nearly as forgettable. A full year removed, he figured to be an integral part of the Terps’ potentially prolific offense, but instead played in only 20 games and shot 32 percent from the field. Now, expectations for both he and Maryland’s offense aren’t quite as high, and he could thrive in a more limited role.
With Cowan and Darryl Morsell handling the ball, Huerter eating up minutes at the two and Jackson showcasing his NBA talents at the three, Wiley’s main job will likely be to spell starters at shooting guard and small forward.
It’s worth noting that before his knee injury, the buzz out of practice was that he was looking explosive and like the best guard on a team that featured Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon. Though Wiley hasn’t looked like that in live action since, if he can provide any kind of spark off the bench, he can be the depth that turns Maryland from a team that lost its first NCAA Tournament game back into a contender to make it to the second weekend.
Theoretically, Morsell could also see time at shooting guard while Cowan takes care of point guard responsibilities, which would move either Huerter or Wiley to the wing. That said, he was recruited as a point guard and will likely have every opportunity to prove that he can be a go-to ball-handling option for Turgeon. Jared Nickens may also see shooting guard minutes here and there, but seems more likely to play at the three or as a stretch four, based on what we’ve seen over the past two seasons.