Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiny Terps 2010: Despite Youth, Maryland Should Be "Dancing" Next Year


I know what you're thinking, and I'm thinking the same thing.

It's been a while since the Maryland Terrapins had a decent basketball recruiting class.

At the moment, Gary Williams' Terps stand 5-2 heading into a weak stretch in their non-conference schedule (besides their matchup against Villanova on Sunday). The bad news is that the Terps will likely have to win the rest of their non-conference games (and they should) to have a shot at the NCAA tournament in case conference play goes badly.  The good news is that the Terps are playing well right now: seniors Greivis Vazquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne are all averaging double-digit point totals, and freshmen forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett are collecting over 13 rebounds per game between the two of them.  The even better news? The freshmen will be supplied with some quality helping hands next year.  At least, that's how things look from here.

According to a major basketball recruiting website, Maryland has gained commitments from four players for the 2010 season.  These commitments include point guard Terrell Stoglin, shooting guard Terrence Ross, small forward Mychal Parker and power forward Ashton Pankey, all of whom are rated as three- or four-star prospects (out of five).  The last time the Terps signed that many quality recruits was in 2007, when the incoming class included guard Adrian Bowie (currently averaging 3.4 points per game) and wing Cliff Tucker (5.7 PPG).

The obvious follow-up question becomes "Will these kids be as good as the experts predict?" The 2002 recruiting class, coming on the heels of a national championship, included many players of similar caliber as this year's recruits.  Maryland fans remember names like Travis Garrison, Chris McCray, Nik Caner-Medley and Mike Jones, all of whom were solid players but never achieved the high marks set by the likes of Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox, Steve Blake and Byron Mouton in '02.

To say the least, it's going to be difficult for the 2010 squad to replicate whatever success this year's team will have.  Hayes is a sure-handed three-point shooter and passer and Milbourne is a lanky rebounder who also has touch from outside the paint.  Vazquez is the kind of do-it-all player that is incredibly hard to replace if your school is not named Duke or North Carolina. It's not unreasonable to project the Terrapins to be ACC bottom-feeders next fall, but given the young talent on next year's presumed roster, they have the potential to be good. Will this next incoming class have success in year 1? I think so. 

The 2010 Terps will return with Bowie, Tucker, Padgett, Williams and knockdown shooter Sean Mosley (13.1 PPG this season) in addition to the four-man recruiting class.  Mosley will be the dominant offensive force, but he won't be the only one that opposing teams have to stop.  Stoglin is a scoring guard who should be able to take some of the pressure off Mosley, and Ross could be a dangerous secondary three-point shooter.

I know this is a long way away, but, if things fall into place and all four of these players matriculate to College Park, I see no reason why the Terps won't get a bid to the NCAA tournament in the spring of 2011.

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