Maryland Basketball: Terrapins' Projected 2015-16 Rotation with Rasheed Sulaimon
The already high expectations for Maryland basketball just got greater with the addition of former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon.
Maryland announced the transfer on the team's official website, noting that he will be eligible to play immediately following his expected graduation in August.
Even though fans in College Park hate all things related to the Blue Devils, Sulaimon represents a big addition to an already impressive roster full of players capable of succeeding at both the college and professional levels.
"They have a chance to be a special team," Sulaimon said of his decision, via ESPN's Jeff Goodman. "They are great guys off the court, and they embraced me. At the end of the day, I wanted to go somewhere to have the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself."
He isn't alone in this thought process either. After learning the news, ESPN's Jay Williams tweeted: "Maryland with the addition of Sulaimon should be preseason number 1 in the nation."
It remains to be seen whether the Terrapins can take the next step and become a legitimate national title contender, but there is no denying the overall talent throughout the roster. Although head coach Mark Turgeon will have some tough choices to make regarding playing time, here is a look at the projected lineup for next season.
Point Guard: Melo Trimble
Although Melo Trimble came to Maryland with moderately high expectations last season, few could have expected how much of an impact he would have in his first year with the Terrapins.
The freshman was one of the top players in the Big Ten at his position, finishing with averages of 16.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and three assists per game while being named a first-team all-conference selection by the media.
Trimble is a polished offensive talent with the ability to make shots from the outside (41.2 percent three-point shooter) as well as drive into the lane and either finish at the rim or get to the free-throw line. Most importantly, he has a poise rarely seen in players his age, which helped the Terps win numerous close games last season.
If he can learn to become a more consistent distributor with so much talent around him, Maryland will be in great shape next season.
Shooting Guard: Rasheed Sulaimon
A week ago it seemed this spot would be filled by one of two rising sophomores in Jared Nickens or Dion Wiley. However, the newest addition will likely be the one who ends up in the starting lineup.
As an offensive player, Rasheed Sulaimon has a lot of good qualities—from slashing to the rim to hitting open shots. His problem at Duke, however, was his consistency and sometimes questionable decision-making. There is a reason his points-per-game average (and minutes) dropped every year after his freshman season.
The good news is his offense won't be needed much on this team. He can still take open shots, but his more important role will be what he does on the defensive end.
With Dez Wells and Richaud Pack graduating, the Terps will be without their two best perimeter defenders from last season. At 6'5" with length and athleticism, Sulaimon represents an immediate upgrade in this area over anyone currently on the roster, and will likely be charged with defending the opponent's best player at either guard spot.
If he can do this and continue to make around 40 percent of his threes, Maryland will be very happy.
Small Forward: Jake Layman
Senior Jake Layman will probably be the biggest X-factor for Maryland next season, and it all comes down to how he handles his role within the team.
At the start of last season, head coach Mark Turgeon moved the 6'8" forward to the 4 position, where he thrived as a mismatch for opposing players. He was tall enough to get his outside shot off whenever he wanted while athletic enough to drive to the rim.
The problem was the fact that he would disappear at times when Melo Trimble and Dez Wells were in control offensively.
This year he will likely move back to his natural small forward position while playing alongside more capable offensive players. It remains to be seen how he will embrace this role, but he can be a true difference-maker on both ends of the court if he performs to his ability.
Power Forward: Robert Carter
Rasheed Sulaimon won't be the only impact transfer joining the Terps next season. Former Georgia Tech star Robert Carter, who spent the past year practicing with the team, is primed to earn a starting spot in the frontcourt.
The highly touted player had an impressive sophomore season two years ago with the Yellow Jackets, averaging 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. According to KenPom.com, Carter ranked seventh in the entire country with a 28.3 defensive rebounding percentage.
This work on the boards will be especially helpful for Maryland after the squad ranked 251st and 143rd in the country in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, respectively.
Carter has a wide offensive skill set that includes a developing outside shot, although his rebounding will be especially valued next season.
Center: Diamond Stone
Maryland got its biggest commitment in years when 5-star recruit Diamond Stone announced he would join the Terps over Wisconsin and just about every other school in the country.
This is obviously getting ahead of ourselves, but the reality is Stone is an impressive low-post player with a developed post game that is rarely seen from big men his age. Although he won't be Jahlil Okafor as a freshman, he does have a chance to make an impact right away on both ends of the court.
In an era of college basketball where scoring bigs are few and far between, Maryland could have one of most productive frontcourts in the country.
Notable Bench Players
Guard: Jared Nickens
Whether he starts or not, there is no question that Jared Nickens will be an important part of the team next season. The three-point specialist made 39 percent of his shots from deep as a freshman, and his 57 made threes ranked second on the team behind only Melo Trimble.
As he continues to round out his game, more playing time will come his way.
Guard: Dion Wiley
Although he didn't get much playing time as a freshman, Dion Wiley still showed flashes of why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school. He averaged 4.1 points per game off the bench this past season and could be even more productive in this role as a sophomore.
The key for him is to become more efficient in his limited playing time.
Guard: Jaylen Brantley
The junior college transfer will provide Maryland with some much-needed depth at the point guard position. Melo Trimble was a bit overworked last season, but that shouldn't be an issue this time around with Jaylen Brantley expected to contribute quality minutes off the bench.
If Trimble were to suffer an injury like he did in the NCAA tournament against West Virginia, Maryland will be much more prepared this season.
Center: Damonte Dodd
Damonte Dodd will have to buy into a team-first attitude this year as he likely moves to the bench after starting most of last season. The defensive-minded player led the team with 1.5 blocks per game, but Diamond Stone provides more versatility from the center position.
That said, Dodd's experience and athleticism off the bench could be invaluable for Maryland.
Center: Michal Cekovsky
While he only averaged 12.6 minutes in 30 games last season, Michal Cekovsky proved he is worthy of some playing time next season. He was raw as a freshman, but came up huge defensively in specific matchups against Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Iowa State's Georges Niang.
With great size at 7'1", the Slovakian center can be an important part of the Terps' success going forward.
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