Possible 2018-19 starting five
G: Anthony Cowan Jr.
Who is lost: The production losses are relatively minimal provided Jackson and other non-seniors don’t enter the NBA draft. Center Michal Cekovsky was a solid contributor, averaging 6.4 points on a team-high 67 percent shooting while averaging 16.9 minutes in the post. Swingman Jared Nickens also added a few buckets off the bench but made only two starts (one in Big Ten play). Center Sean Obi, a graduate transfer from Duke, averaged only six minutes per game for Maryland.
Who is added: Maryland’s 2017-18 campaign changed when it lost Jackson to a season-ending shoulder injury in December, and, days later, forward Ivan Bender to a torn knee ligament. If both return alongside another strong recruiting class, Maryland should be back in the Big Ten conversation. The Terps will have plenty of frontcourt options after signing Jalen Smith, ESPN’s No. 4 power forward and No. 15 overall player in the 2018 class. The 6-foot-9 Smith brings length, touch and versatility to the post. Four-star prospects Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala both can play multiple positions and add to Maryland’s backcourt rotation. Wiggins is a strong shooter who also will help Maryland’s defense. Center Schnider Herard, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Mississippi State ranked by ESPN as the No. 64 player in the 2016 class, will be eligible to play in January 2019.
What it means for next season: Maryland brings back one of the deeper and more talented teams in the Big Ten, especially if Jackson returns for his third season and remains healthy. The combination of experience, players returning from injuries and a strong recruiting class is tough to match. The Terrapins have an excellent floor leader in Cowan, who ranked in the top 10 in the league in scoring, assists, steals and free throw percentage, while playing a league-leading 37 minutes per game. Huerter is a proven 3-point shooting threat, while Morsell provides some help in the post. Maryland’s frontcourt will be formidable with Jackson, Fernando, incoming recruit Smith and a healthy Bender, among others. Maryland must improve a lousy road record (2-8) from this past season, but increased depth on the defensive end and more options on offense should help. It’s hard to get too excited about a team that went 8-10 in a down Big Ten, but Maryland has a chance to take a significant step forward.
Trending: Neutral. The obvious disappointment of 2017-18 comes with the caveat that Maryland played all but two Big Ten games without its best player. Turgeon likely will be on the hot seat in 2018-19, but he has the on-court personnel to make significant strides. Maryland should have one of the deepest frontcourts in the country and solid contributors just about everywhere.