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How Maryland basketball’s expectations change with Jalen Smith returning

This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

Maryland basketball Jalen Smith vs. Minnesota Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

One of the big questions for Maryland basketball’s offseason has now been answered. Jalen Smith announced on Monday that he would be returning for his sophomore year, ending the possibly months-long speculation early.

Smith’s return helps give Maryland its deepest team under Mark Turgeon, and likely a preseason top-20 team. Even with Bruno Fernando likely to declare for the NBA Draft and ultimately turn pro, the Terps will still return seven of their top eight players from this past season. Add in three solid recruits, and Maryland will have plenty of guys who can take this spring’s Round of 32 appearance (and heartbreak) and build on it.

If Fernando goes, Smith will have the chance to be the focal point of the offense like Fernando was this past season. Fernando was much improved in his sophomore campaign, and the hope is that Smith makes a similar jump next year. The freshman had a fantastic NCAA Tournament, which could be a sign of things to come after another offseason in the weight room.

As for the Big Ten, this means Maryland will probably picked to be a top-three team in the conference heading into next season. None of Michigan or Michigan State’s underclassmen have declared for the NBA Draft yet, and neither has players who look like potential lottery picks. Both teams are on the short list of national title contenders for 2019-20. The Terps look like they could be one of the deepest teams in the Big Ten, but there’s still a lot of offseason remaining.

In other news

Maryland basketball’s Twitter account had some fun Jalen Smith’s announcement.

I took a look at how Cathy Reese’s energetic approach has helped her become Maryland women’s lacrosse’s all-time winningest coach.

Her ice cream flavor at Stamp also debuted yesterday.

Here’s The Diamondback’s Eric Myers on how Maryland men’s lacrosse overcame Michigan’s unique 10-man ride.

Maryland gymnastics had a disappointing finish to an otherwise promising season at the Athens Regional.

Three-star 2020 linebacker recruit and Maryland target Ruben Hyppolite II is hoping to make an early impact at the next level.

Because Jon Rothstein sleeps in May, he has Maryland basketball at No. 11 in his extremely ridiculously early 2019-20 preseason poll.

(Editor’s note: several other lists have come out with Maryland in a similar spot. We’ll be rounding those up in their own post.)

The college basketball season officially ended last night with Virginia thrilling 85-77 overtime over Texas Tech. Smith’s “grown man slam” (barely) made the cut in “One Shining Moment.”