We’re doing a season review of Maryland basketball’s roster this week. First up: the guards.
Maryland basketball has been able to call on Melo Trimble to lead the Terps into battle for the past three years. That could all change soon, but the kids will be alright.
Trimble’s junior year saw him flourish in a new role. Freshman Anthony Cowan stepped into the starting point guard spot from day one, allowing Trimble to play off the ball for the first time in his career. Cowan gave Trimble the exact sort of backcourt assistance Maryland had been lacking, and the Terps had one of the better backcourts in the country.
Trimble will once again have to decide whether to leave for the NBA Draft or return for his senior season. DraftExpress currently projects Trimble to go undrafted, but he could still leave Maryland if he feels he doesn’t have anything left to gain. Trimble has proved almost all he can at the college level, and has every right to consider starting his professional career now. Should he return, he’d be one of the most feared guards in the country next season.
Maryland would certainly be a more competitive team if Trimble stays, but coach Mark Turgeon won’t be entering a rebuild if he leaves.
The Terps already have their point guard of the future.
Cowan proved to be a capable distributor, taking over the point guard spot from day one. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo went as far as calling him a “mini-Melo,” and he does bear some similarities to his former AAU teammate. Cowan isn’t the type of scorer Trimble is, but packs more athleticism and stingy defensive ability into a smaller frame.
Cowan is a defensive pest, and the way he darts to the rim is reminiscent of freshman Trimble. He had a 70 percent free throw rate as a freshman, a stat that measures how good a player is at getting to the foul line. In Trimble’s freshman season, he had an almost-identical 71 percent free throw rate. This proves Cowan and Trimble do have some similarities, even if they’re not the same player.
He finished his rookie season third on the team in scoring with 10.3 points per game, and his assists, rebounds and steals numbers were virtually the same as Trimble’s. Cowan averaged 3.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, while Trimble finished with 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals. Even though Cowan doesn’t have Trimble’s knack for scoring, his defense will make him one of Maryland’s best players next season.
If Trimble leaves, Maryland won’t be lacking in talent at guard — or depth.
Kevin Huerter was arguably Maryland’s most productive and well-rounded freshman, and could slide into the shooting guard spot should Trimble vacate it. Huerter played point guard in high school and was 6’3 when he committed, but grew to 6’7 by the start of this season. If Trimble leaves, that would certainly open the door for more minutes for Huerter at the two, which could give the 37 percent three-point shooter some more open looks.
Behind Cowan, Jaylen Brantley looked more confident in his second season with the Terps, assuring Maryland it will have a backup point guard if Trimble leaves. Gone are the days where Turgeon had to play former walk-on Varun Ram because Trimble didn’t have a true backup. Brantley averaged just over two points in eight minutes per game during the 2016 season. This year, he doubled both averages — almost five points in 16 minutes per game — and was often the most reliable player off the bench. Expect him to look even more confident in his senior season, which will be his third in Turgeon’s system.
The Terps are also bringing in four-star guard Darryl Morsell, and the 6’4 Baltimore product should bolster the bench. He averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while leading his team to a 37-4 record. He should give Maryland the ability to go three deep at point guard even if Trimble doesn’t come back.
If Trimble returns, Maryland should have depth at both guard positions. And that’s not even counting a certain player who couldn’t find a role after returning from injury.
Dion Wiley is a wild card for next season.
Maryland doesn’t really know what it will get from its rising redshirt junior next season.
It’s easy to forget that Wiley was projected to start on a stacked team in 2015-16. A torn meniscus robbed him of that whole season, but he was projected to return as a large part of the team this year.
Instead, he struggled through back injuries and was never really able to find a role. In his freshman season, he averaged 4.1 points in 13 minutes per game off the bench and played in every game. He played even less during his redshirt sophomore year, scoring 3.2 points in 10 minutes per game in 20 contests.
The good thing is he still has two seasons of eligibility left. If he can find his form now that he’s a full season removed from his injury, Wiley will have a chance to contribute on a deep team.