If you’re a Maryland Terps basketball fan, the past year has been an incredibly exciting one. Not only did you become a part of one of the deepest basketball conferences in all the land by joining the ever daunting Big Ten, you competed at the highest level in that conference. Finishing second in the conference to a team like this year’s version of the Wisconsin Badgers is something to hang your hat on, regardless of how many years you’ve been a part of the same conference. However, to accomplish such a feat in your first year in the league is remarkable.
March, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as exciting. Getting the boot from the tournament early is never fun, regardless of expectations. It always stings, it’s never satisfying and you’re always left with a bitter taste in your mouth. It’s also a tough pill to swallow because Maryland is going to lose eight players to graduation before next season’s tip, including arguably the best player on the team in Dez Wells. On the bright side, Terps Nation did get to avoid being Kentucky’s sacrificial lamb in the Sweet 16.
Things are looking up for the 2015-16 campaign. First, star point guard Melo Trimble announced that he’d like to come back to school to help Maryland win. Trimble is the type of player that can take over a game, so long as moving screens aren’t taking him out of games in the round of 32 (we’re looking at you, West Virginia). The question then becomes, what does Trimble need to help balance out his game.
Enter Diamond Stone. At 6’10” and 250 pounds as a senior in high school, Diamond’s mixtapes show flashes of DeMarcus Cousins type skill and dominance. When Diamond is on the court, he imposes his will on those who give their best attempt to guard him. Of course, he can throw down over the top of people; at 6’10”, it would be troubling if he couldn’t. However, what makes Stone such a special big man is his mastery of footwork and positioning. He can score with hook shots, spin moves and jump shots. On defense, he can man the paint with shear size, and send back weak attempts at the goal from people coming down the lane. Don’t believe me? Check out his senior mixtape.
Stone brings a whole new dynamic to Maryland basketball. He will play next to Robert Carter, who sat this past year after transferring from Georgia Tech, which will create mismatch problems on the block for opposing defenses. Not to mention, having reliable post scorers in Stone and Carter will allow returning senior Jake Layman to retreat to his natural position as a slasher on the perimeter. That is as formidable a group of forwards you can ask for, complete with scoring and sufficient defense.
Stone chose Maryland via Twitter, electing to be a Terp over Wisconsin, Connecticut and Oklahoma State.
Stone is currently ranked No. 7 in the ESPN 100, and will make his presence felt early and often throughout next season with the Terps.
*Section Photo credit to rivals.com; Featured Photo (above) credit to FIBA Photo.