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Every time Jin Soo Kim went to the basket and scored during the second half of today's preseason win over Northwood University, I kept thinking back to what Joe Smith did as a freshman in a preseason game against the Australian national team in 1993.

Smith scored something like 37 points against a team that included former Seton Hall star Andrew Gaze.

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After that game, I asked Gary Williams if he knew the skinny 6-foot-10 forward from Norfolk, Va., could score like that, since his reputation in high school was as a rebounder and shot-blocker whose only offense on his AAU team came from putting back Allen Iverson's misses. Smith wasn't even the top player in the recruiting class; Dunbar's Keith Booth was.

"Don't create a monster," Williams said that night.

The monster created himself, destroying Othella Harrington and Georgetown a week or so later in his regular-season debut. Two seasons later, Smith was the National Player of the Year and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

This is not to say that Kim is going to be a breakout star, but his 20-point performance (including 18 in the second half) gives Williams and Maryland fans some hope that this season won't be as miserable as everyone -- me included -- has predicted.

The Terps still have no inside game. Though sophomores Braxton Dupree and Jerome Burney played better in the second half than they did in the first, they need to at least be more of a defensive and rebounding force than they've demonstrated.

And Maryland might need to shoot 25 of 28 from the free-throw line and seven of 19 on threes, as they did against Northwood, in order to win games.

But Kim, and Sean Mosley when he returns this week from a sprained ankle, at least give the Terps some more athleticism -- something they will need in abundance to compete in the ACC. Landon Milbourne, Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie all played well today, and Eric Hayes was steady. That Maryland only had 11 turnovers might have something to do with Greivis Vasquez sitting out a one-game suspension.

That said, those who watched today's game will probably go home talking about this 19-year old Korean who just started practicing with the Terps last Tuesday after finally getting cleared by the NCAA.

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Just as they did 15 years ago, talking about Joe Smith.

I'm going home to change my prediction.

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