Maryland men’s basketball enters the 2020-21 season with much uncertainty around a very different makeup than recent years.
There’s of course the departures of Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith, who was selected 10th overall in the NBA Draft earlier this week. Together they combined for 31.8 points per game last season, with one of the two leading the team in nearly every statistical category.
Though they both played bench roles throughout their two years in College Park, Ricky Lindo Jr., Serrel Smith Jr. and Joshua Tomiac were expected to see more minutes this year, but instead elected to transfer.
In desperate need of depth that could make an impact right away, head coach Mark Turgeon turned to the transfer portal. Despite missing out on a lot of targets, he landed two forwards in Boston College’s Jairus Hamilton and Alabama’s Galin Smith.
Here’s what the team had to say about the two Terp transfers.
Everybody raved about Hamilton, who joins sophomore Donta Scott at the four spot. He is the most proven of any of Maryland’s new players and is expected to play a significant role for Maryland this season.
Hamilton saw 25.8 minutes of action per game last season as a sophomore for Boston College, averaging 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 42.8% from the floor and 28.1% from deep.
He is slightly bigger than Scott at 6-foot-8, 234 pounds, and Turgeon boasted about the battles he’s seen between the duo in practice thus far. Though it remains unclear who will start, Hamilton is primed to take a big leap with more opportunities in his junior season.
Turgeon: “He’s a grown man. Every time I talk to him, I say, ‘Pretend you’re a two-guard. Pretend you’re a two-guard.’ You know, working on his handle, working on his shot, getting him more comfortable not only making plays for himself, but making plays for his teammates. … Jairus is a really good player. He’s worked hard defensively. He’s very coachable, he’s a great kid. He’s excited to get the opportunity to play.”
Donta Scott: “It’s great. Me and Jairus be banging against each other all the time, fighting when we going for rebounds. So it’s good having a guy that’s gonna push me every day and I’m gonna push him to make him better.”
Aaron Wiggins: “With his body, he can play literally the one through the four. He can guard, he can move his feet, and I mean, he can score at will with his size and skill set.”
Aquan Smart: “Jairus is a phenomenal basketball player. He’s really strong. He can shoot it really well. Very athletic. Plays great defense. Can pass the ball really well. He’s just a great all around player. And he played two years in college already, so this is going to be nothing new for him. He’s really a fantastic player though.”
Though he only averaged 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per game for Alabama last season, the team seems very confident in Smith’s ability to make an instant impact on the court.
The graduate transfer has an oddly similar name to his predecessor inside the paint, but he plays a much different style of basketball. He hasn’t made a triple throughout his college career, with the 6-foot-9, 240 pound, big man specializing in a physical game around the basket.
That makes him quite different from Maryland’s other option down low, 7-foot-2, 235 pound, sophomore Chol Marial, who impressed in high school with his effortless ability to knock down deep shots. It remains unclear who will start at center, but Smith provides a good option to go up against some of the big body talents of the Big Ten, such as Iowa’s Luka Garza and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn.
Turgeon: “He averaged  minutes a game for three years at Alabama. That’s a pretty good team and a pretty good league, so he’s played valuable minutes. He was well coached down there, has a great feel, especially where to go offensively. So his maturity’s really helped us.”
Eric Ayala: “He’s a great ball screener. You know, him and the ball screen, like it’s beautiful.”
Wiggins: “Galin is going to be huge for us in the paint. I mean, his ability to post up, to set screens and his size and athleticism, he’ll be really good for us.”
On himself: [I’m] a hard worker, very physical. I like to play with my back to the basket — I like to do a lot of different things, I’ll drive from the elbow. That’s why I want to come in and I want to expand my game more so I can be able to make an even bigger impact and really help the team win.”
Correction: Joshua Tomiac was originally left out of this article.