There are six days until the start of the 2019-20 season for No. 7 Maryland men’s basketball.
Our player preview series is over, which means its time to turn to the schedule. The Terps will have a daunting slate come Big Ten play, but the nonconference opponents may not be as tall a task to overcome. Sean got the party started, explaining Maryland’s first five opponents.
Today, I will be looking at the best players on the first five games Maryland’s nonconference schedule.
Cyril Langevine, forward, No. 10: Rhode Island Rams — Nov. 9
Langevine is one of Rhode Island’s key pieces that is returning, along with guard Jeff Dowtin and guard Fatts Russell. All three Rams started at least 33 games last season, averaged over 14 points apiece and will be relied on heavily for a team that was chosen to finish fourth in the Atlantic 10.
Last year, Langevine proved to be a solid piece for the Rams in his first year in the starting lineup, averaging 14.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest. The East Orange, New Jersey, native also maintained a defensive presence on the floor for Rhode Island, accumulating 46 blocks on the season — the most on the team and fifth in the conference. Langevine received Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference and Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team honors to end the year.
The senior is physical, grabbing a team-high 111 offensive rebounds last year, but his weakness was his outside shooting. Langevine only took two shots from the outside last year, and missed both, generating questions to whether or not he has expanded his game.
College basketball analyst Andy Katz believes this team will be in contention for a late bid this upcoming March, but will have to rely heavily on Langevin to do so.
Xavier Hill-Mais, forward, No. 14: Oakland Golden Grizzlies — Nov. 16
After an incredible and efficient 2018-19 season, Hill-Mais came back for his redshirt senior season and returns a whole lot of points to the floor for Oakland.
Hill-Mais, standing at 6’7, was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, averaging 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. The Greensboro, North Carolina, native had four 30-plus scoring games, including one on Nov. 19 against Defiance when Hill-Mais went 12-12 from the field and 3-3 from beyond the arc.
Hill-Mais demonstrates a knack for his ability to leverage his size to his advantage and gain position on opposing defenders, which should be an interesting duel of physicality when he battles Maryland forward Jalen Smith next month.
The Golden Grizzlies were chosen to finish fourth in the Horizon League and will be without second-leading scorer Jaevin Cumberland, who averaged 17.2 points per contest. One can expect that Oakland’s offense will run through its redshirt senior, who is equipped for another big season.
Justin Kier, guard, No. 1: George Mason Patriots — Nov. 22
Kier has been a starter for George Mason since his freshman year in 2016-17, opening 93 of the last 99 games for the Patriots in the guard slot. Last season, Kier led the team in scoring with an average of 14.5 points per game and was second in rebounds, averaging 6.5 boards per contest.
Returning to the program for his junior season last year, the Grottoes, Virginia, native received the 2019 Atlantic 10 Most Improved Player award and also received All-Atlantic 10 Second Team honors.
As one of the key returnees, Kier will bring a veteran presence to a team that was picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic 10 conference. Kier, who earned Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference Second Team honors, was the only Patriot that received any preseason conference recognition and will be a critical key to George Mason’s success.
Fatts Russell, guard, No. 1 — Rhode Island
2018-2019 stats: 15.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.7 apg
Jeff Dowtin, guard, No. 11 — Rhode Island
2018-2019 stats: 15.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.54 apg
Austin Butler, guard, No. 4 — Holy Cross
2018-19 stats: 12.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 spg