Terps Basketball Gets Their Midterms: Part II

Last week I gave out midterm grades to some of the Maryland men’s basketball players but there are some whose grades I needed some more time to determine. To see the first half of my midseason season assessments for the Terps, click here. Here are some grades for other players in part two of the midterm grades series:

Evan Smotrycz – C+
Smot has easily been the biggest question mark for the Terps this season. Maryland’s stretch four is also their most polarizing player due to his inconsistent play. His expectations rose after his eight-game absence early in the season where the team and the fans somewhat built up his projected input in a “wait until he gets back” sort of mind frame. Evan gets a C+ because he has not met the expectations of the minute-eating forward in a thin big-man rotation. The plus comes from what he adds on the intangible side. When he scores above eight points in a game, he has only had two or more assists in those games once, whereas when he scores less than that, Smot has had three or more assists four times in his 10 overall games. This shows he can draw some defenders and make smart passes. I have been a Smotrycz supporter ever since he came to College Park as we have seen the stretch four work in the past (Landon Milbourne, Travis Garrison, etc.). While he has been underwhelming recently, we have seen what Evan can do when he plays team basketball and what happens on offense when he starts feeling it.

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Dion Wiley – B
Coming into College Park in recent years as a 4-star recruit would have come with all of the expectations of the future placed squarely on your shoulders and being told to perform immediately. Wiley was given a blessing in disguise coming in as the second-best player in the class even as a local 4-star sharpshooter. Dion proved he has a beautiful stroke and if given a small window, he can snap the net from deep. He has the fourth most three-pointers made on the team even as his minutes have diminished toward the middle of the first half of the season. Wiley sits at a very respectable B at the moment because of the inconsistency of Turgeon’s lineup and positional rotation. If he were to be in a more defined role, Wiley could easily be at a D+ had he gone cold or an A- if he had been unconscious from beyond the arc. His development is a true testament to Turgeon and the staff’s coaching. While sometimes confusing in the mix of players he uses, he has allowed Wiley to play the correct position at the right times. Dion could improve his standing in the rotation if he were to take the ball to the basket or create his own shot. He only seems to have the ball outside of the three-point line and if he’s not shooting, he’s giving it up. Another dimension to his game could open up a multitude of offensive opportunities for Dion who is showing an increasing amount of poise and confidence for his age.

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Jared Nickens – A-
Jared has been the biggest surprise of the young season. A 3-star recruit from nowhere New Jersey that had been overshadowed by a loaded recruiting class featuring Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley and the two seven footers. Nickens initially showed me comparisons to Kevin Durant earlier in the year with his wiry frame and ability to create his own shot from 15 and out. While Nickens has not done much to handle the ball as of late (a la Dion Wiley), he has been lights out from three. He leads the team in three pointers made as well as three-point percentage excluding Dez Wells, who hasn’t played in as many games. Just like Wiley, an added dimension of driving to the hoop would open up so many doors for his offensive game including a mid-range step back which we have seen him make previously. Jared has earned the increasing amount of minutes and even broke into the starting lineup, which is a great triumph for the forward from Monmouth Junction.

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Richaud Pack – A
Maryland’s secret weapon, Pack has been everything and more for the Terps this year after transferring last year from North Carolina A&T. Fourth on the team in minutes and points per game eating up almost 30 minutes and dropping around eight points per game. What he lacks in athleticism he doubles up in grit and overall basketball knowledge. Richaud can frequently be seen popping up under the hoop in what has become Turgeon’s favorite play to run with him in the game. Beyond the overall toughness and the quiet sharpshooting ability is a plethora of sheer basketball knowledge. Pack moves the ball well and he’s in the right places at the right times. He’s a combo guard who only averages an incredible 1.2 turnovers per game in about 30 minutes each night. He is making the absolute most of every chance the coaching staff is giving him and is making a great first and last impression on Terp fans as the secret engine of this team.

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Jake Layman – A
Somebody finally told Jake Layman he is good at basketball. Terp fans have been salivating over the thought of Layman driving to the hoop, playing tough defense and banging down low since the 6’8″ forward stepped onto campus. In the grades for Wiley and Nickens, there was some mention of driving to the hoop to open up their games. Somebody gave this advice to Jake Layman and these are the results: 14.3 points per game, close to seven boards a game, shooting over 50 percent from the field and a very respectable 37.5 percent from deep. From his first two years until now, Layman has gone from a raw yet soft 3-4 combo forward with the capability to shoot to an all-around swingman who, if guarded one-on-one, can beat you to the hoop but if left open can knock down a three. Layman has been the key to Maryland’s full transformation as a program and has only increased his draft stock in the process. He could be looking at All-B1G honors.

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Dez Wells – B+
This could be seen as harsh as Dez is our best player and the team is night and day better with him than without him, but allow me to explain why I am being so hard on Dez. He finally got some help. He doesn’t have to do it all anymore. This has been a blessing and a curse for Wells. Let’s start with the negative. While the cavalry has arrived for him, Dez has been exploring the mid-range game a little too frequently for my liking which leads me to believe he is trying to show NBA scouts that he has a turnaround 15 footer. It makes me crazy. It’s like watching Josh Smith shoot three pointers. “You can jump out of the gym, why are you shooting?!” Now while Dez is a much better shooter than Smith, you can’t help but wonder why he doesn’t try to beat more players off the dribble. Granted, he has been improving the mid-range shot so it has become more palatable for me as a nervous fan. Other than this, he has been the same old Dez. Monster dunks, big three pointers, showing us what it means to be a proud Terp and feeding off of the atmosphere of the crowd. Be very afraid that he only got a B+ because that means he can be even better than he is right now.

Melo Trimble – Pass
I have decided to make Melo’s grade Pass/Fail in the hopes that I can resist giving him an A+++. There are almost no words to describe how unreal this dude’s talent level is.

https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/7BFC406DB01168356578509090816_2b8fb93e3fa.5.1.1096489372745645104.mp4?versionId=qBx7SSJCPv6DemRCPec4mbNPgOpgIDPj

The expectations were pretty high for a local McDonald’s All-American and he has exceeded all of them. He leads the team in points per game, minutes per game, assists per game, steals per game and is shooting nearly 90 percent from the foul line: a Grievis-esque number. Is there anything more I want to see from Melo? Stay four years and win a championship perhaps? Getting a bit ahead of ourselves but the possibilities truly are endless. This man cannot be stopped and we should thank our lucky stars his jersey reads Maryland on the front.

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Mark Turgeon – A-
He finally got his team. After a good deal of shuffling and the sensation of his seat heating up, Turgeon seems to have come into his own in College Park. Even after losing his right-hand man Scott Spinelli to the coaching carousel, Turgeon has instilled a discipline into his players who play smart on offense and play the signature tough defense that sold him to the university. Throw in the fact that he is a brilliant recruiter and you get what appears to be a good fit for the Terps and the future of the program. He has a system he likes to run, he has his team and he has some success. It’s hard not to start putting the past three years behind us.

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