Maryland finished first in the Big 10 standings with a record of 14-6. It was eyeing a deep run in March, but the subsequent pandemic ended that prematurely. Last week we covered the revolving door that is Ohio State’s roster. This week we take a glance at the rough offseason the Terps have gone through. They have struggled to replenish their war chest, and if basketball is played this season they could face some serious struggles. Without further introductions here we go.
Anthony Cowan Jr.’s presence and production will be sorely missed on the Maryland hardwood. Over his four years under Mark Turgeon, he played in 130 games, and has started in all of them. And during his senior season, he averaged 16.3 points per game, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. He is an extension of the coach on the floor. And often, when a big play needs to happen, he’s at the center of it.
He managed to rewrite the Terps record book during his career there as well. He owns the record for most consecutive starts. Cowan Jr., is the All-Time leader in free throws made (579). He’s second in minutes, minutes per game, and total career starts. He sits third in career three-point field goals made, and fourth in double-figure scoring games. Don’t forget he can pass too, ending his career at fifth all-time in assists. The career Cowan has put together was one of immense personal and team successes, and replacing him will be a difficult task for coach Turgeon going forward.
Jalen Smith declared for the draft after the abbreviated season came to an end. Coming into his college career, he was a consensus five-star recruit. But after a disappointing loss to LSU in the second round of the 2019 national tournament, he made the decision to stay for a sophomore season. The goal being, a deeper run in March. That didn’t get to happen, and subsequently, he entered his name in the NBA draft.
In his sophomore season, Smith was named First Team All-Big Ten after averaging 15.5 points per game and 10.5 rebounds. And he scored the ball with tremendous efficiency– score both inside and out. His loss marks the departure of the Terps two best players from this past season.
Jarius Hamilton is the only transfer Maryland managed to land this offseason. At Boston College, he averaged 9.5 points per game and 4.3 rebounds. He shot a decent 42.4 percent from the floor, but a worrying 28 percent from three. The 6’8 forward gives the Terps much-needed depth in the frontcourt coming into this season.
Marcus Dockery, the 6’1 175-pound combo guard out of Washington D.C looks to take the reigns after Cowan Jr, graduated this season. He was the first of Maryland’s class of 2020 to commit, as he did so two years ago via Twitter after 247sports broke the news. Dockery’s game is effortless. He is a willing shot creator, who has a knack for getting to the basket. Terp fans should celebrate his arrival on campus, as he couldn’t come at a better point in time.
— marcus dockery🐢 (@lul_marc) August 29, 2018
Aquan Smart, the big body 6’3 200-pound combo guard made a name for himself late in his high school career. He comes in ranked as a three-star prospect, who in their senior season averaged 24 points per game. He benefits from his upside, and though he’s a raw prospect, he should turn out to be a quality player going forward. Fans will have to hang their hat on his potential and upside. There is a good chance he doesn’t play much this year, especially if Turgeon ops for Eric Ayala at point guard.
Aaron Wiggins returns for his junior season, and he should see an extended role on the team. He is a 6’6″ athletic wing, who holds the ability to fill up the scoring column nightly. His one vice is his inconsistent effort. Last year, he averaged 10.4 points per game on 38 percent from the field. He added 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as well. The biggest red flag has been the drop in his shooting percentages from his freshman campaign to now. They dropped 10 percent over the past two seasons. Hopefully last year was just a simple outlier, and with more touches, comes efficiency.
Eric Ayala is a wild card for the 2020-21 season. the 2019-20 campaign was filled with inconsistency and difficulty. He would have some nights where he couldn’t miss, and other nights where you could forget he is on the floor. Last season he averaged 8.5 points per game and 2.5 assists. Ideally, you would like to see more creation out of a lead guard, but he possesses the potential to become that at some point. Ayala has shown flashes of what he can be at his best, I think back to his performance against Michigan. In that outing, he notched 19 points on 60 percent from the field. Yet, the low moments can not be ignored. Coming into this year, hopefully, an extended role gives him the chances he needs to showcase what he can be as the Terps lead guard.
It has been a weird offseason for the Terps. They lost key parts of their very successful 2019-20 roster, and they haven’t seen an influx of youthful talent. The 2020-21 season will be filled with growing pains. And most likely, it will be a rebuilding year for the Terps as they look to get their younger guys more game experience. Maryland fans shouldn’t dismay, the future does look bright for Turgeon and his crew.
I am a college basketball writer primarily based in Nashville, covering all mid-major activity along with Big Ten hoops.