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Talking Terps with Dave Tucker of Testudo Times

BasketballMaryland TerrapinsFootballNBAAlex LenMark Turgeon

The Baltimore sports scene is blessed with a bunch of talented bloggers who bring their unique perspective to the conversation. Each week, I hope to chat with one of them in a regular feature called Blogger on Blogger. This week, I exchanged emails with Dave Tucker, who blogs about the Terps for Testudo Times.

MV: Where do you expect Alex Len to go in the NBA draft? What do you expect from him as a pro?

DT: I expect Len to get drafted somewhere in the top 10, maybe in the top 5. Alex has a lot going for him from an NBA perspective. He’s seven-foot-one with a huge wingspan, he has a mid-range jump shot, he has decent post moves, he's very athletic and he has potential. Unfortunately, the recent foot injury he suffered prevented him from doing basketball activities and participating in the NBA combine, and his draft stock has taken a hit as a result. 

Len's probably not ready to step in and contribute immediately to an NBA team this fall, even if he hadn't injured his foot this spring. But if he continues to show the same progression and improvement he did between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he has the potential to be a great NBA center, as my colleague Pete Volk discusses here. The transformation Len made from his freshman year to last year was amazing, almost doubling his offensive production from six points per game to 11.9, while improving his rebounding from 5.4 per game to 7.8 and adding in a mid-range jump shot. If Maryland had more consistent point guards, who could consistently get him the ball inside when he had position, his production would have been even greater this season. Additionally, Alex is still learning the English language, something that likely impacted his freshman year production, but is becoming less of an issue as he gets up to speed in that arena.

MV: Maryland got a commitment from Dion Wiley last week. With him and Melo Trimble on board, where will the Terps coaches turn next in recruiting?

DT: Mark Turgeon and his staff have done something that Maryland fans have been waiting for since forever: getting the local basketball talent to stay and play for the Terps. With shooting guard Dion Wiley's commitment, along with point guard Melo Trimble in 2014, Maryland has a nice group of guards coming on board, especially when you factor in 2013 point guard Roddy Peters. So the question now becomes does Maryland go after another guard, like local shooting guard Phil Booth? Or do they target a forward or big man, like Obi Enechionyia or Trayvon Reed?

Maryland is definitely making a strong push to get Booth to College Park, which would give them six guards in 2014. Perhaps Mark Turgeon is anticipating an early NBA departure by Dez Wells or Nick Faust after this season? Regardless, it appears Booth is now one of their top targets, but I'd be surprised if they didn't add a forward or big man in 2014 as well.

MV: What do you see as the biggest question mark facing the Maryland basketball team heading into the season?

PT: Point guard play, plain and simple. It was definitely Maryland's biggest weakness last season and with Peters coming on board, many expected that position to stabilize this season. But with senior Pe'Shon Howard's decision to transfer to USC to be closer to his sick grandmother, Maryland lacks an experienced point guard to work with Peters this season. That means Seth Allen and Nick Faust will likely be helping with point guard duties again this year and that Peters is going to have to play with a lot of poise as a freshman in order for Maryland to be successful this season.

MV: Which player or position group on the Terps’ football team has the most to prove this year?

DT: Probably quarterback. After the disastrous 2012 season that saw Maryland lose their top four quarterbacks to injury, forcing them to put a freshman linebacker in as the signal-caller, consistent, quality quarterback play is arguably the biggest need this season for Maryland. C.J. Brown, who has shown he's capable of running offensive coordinator Mike Locksley's zone read offense when healthy, should be ready to go when Maryland opens camp later this summer. Brown, who took the starting job away from former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien in 2011, needs to demonstrate that he can remain healthy for a full season. If he can, Maryland's offense should improve tremendously over last year, when they averaged just 4.4 yards per play. A healthy Brown, playing with two fantastic receivers in sophomore Stefon Diggs and transfer Deon Long, should be exciting to watch this season.

MV: How is football recruiting going so far for Randy Edsall with the 2014 class?

Edsall and Mike Locksley have done a fantastic job with recruiting, especially when you consider Maryland's sub-par record over the past two seasons. They've worked tremendously to lock down the local talent in the state and have been successful, getting five-star prospects like Stefon Diggs to choose Maryland over prestigious programs like Ohio State. 

Maryland has had a nice start to their 2014 recruiting class, having received four commitments thus far. Dual-threat quarterback William Ulmer from Washington, D.C. is arguably the most significant commitment of those four. Ulmer had offers from virtually every major football program, including Notre Dame, Florida State, Florida and Wisconsin. He's fast and athletic and should be a great fit in Maryland's offense. The other big commit for the Terps in 2014 is Johnathan Thomas, a four-star running back from Danvers, MA. They've also received commitments from offensive lineman Jared Cohen, from McDonogh High School in Owings Mills, and David Shaw, a defensive lineman from Spring Grove, PA, who just committed to the Terps on June 2. 

If you are a blogger who is interested in participating in this feature, email me at matt.vensel@baltsun.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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