Jon Givoney, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based college and professional basketball connoisseur whose DraftExpress.com mock draft board is well-respected by NBA scouts and general managers, explained his reasons for putting Maryland's Diamond Stone, Melo Trimble and Jake Layman where he did Thursday, and why Terps Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter Jr. have not yet been mentioned.
Stone, a 6-foot-11 freshman center, is the highest rated of Mark Turgeon's players, and jumped to No. 11 on the current board after falling out of the top 10, where he was last summer, to No. 18 earlier this season.
"I think there are two things behind the move. One obviously is how well Diamond is playing -- he's the most productive freshman in college basketball on a points-per-minute basis," Givoney said. "They're not asking him to play 35 minutes like Ben Simmons at LSU, but on a per-minute basis he's been unbelievably productive.
"The second part of it, the middle part of this draft [in the first round] is still very soft, shallow and so there's a huge discrepancy when you talk to NBA people once you get out of the top eight, maybe nine prospects, who is going to make up that back end of the lottery."
Following one of his long-standing rules, Givoney said that when there's any questions, it's safer to project players based on size, age, and statistics.
"Diamond fits all three of those boxes, and he's getting better and better," Givoney said. "As the season moves on, you're going to have to look at what's happened and what might happen as far as the tournament and who might make a run."
That might bode well for sophomore point guard Trimble. When many other mock draft boards last summer had Trimble as a potential late first-round pick had he chose to come out after his freshman year, Givoney had him as an early second-round choice and was among those who wondered if Trimble had peaked.
Last month, DraftExpress.com moved Trimble into the first round and he is now at No. 23 overall -- with a chance to rocket up into the lottery if he and the Terps make a run deep into the NCAA tournament. Like the NBA scouts and executives he speaks with on a regular basis, Givoney is now among the believers.
"I think he's done a great job of making believers out of doubters," Givoney said. "A lot of people thought he was very mature for a freshman, he was a 20-year-old freshman. All he's done is double his assist rate, he's become much more of a true facilitator, he's improved his efficiency inside the arc dramatically.
"Those are the things scouts wanted to see, and he's still that tremendous shooter. The shots he takes are unbelievably difficult shots and he makes them at a ridiculous rate. He's doing all you can ask for. Scouts and myself feel that we have to keep an open mind. He's one of the best players in college basketball -- period."
Givoney said that Trimble is at worst the third best point guard in the 2016 draft and potentially second behind only Providence junior Kris Dunn.
"Are there going to be three teams in the lottery looking for a point guard? Could be," Givoney said. "A lot of them have pretty bad point guards. I think he is a pretty safe guy [to pick]."
Because of new rules adopted Wednesday by the NCAA, players such as Stone, Trimble and Carter will be able to apply for early eligibility a month later and go through the NBA combine as well as individual team workouts before declaring for the draft.
The only other Maryland player mentioned on DraftExpress.com's two-round mock board is Layman, a senor forward who is currently at No. 38. Layman was previously mentioned in the first round, but has watched his stock drop this season due to a number of unproductive offensive games.
Still there are more than a few scouts who look at what Layman did in Tuesday's 70-67 loss at Michigan -- 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, making three of five 3-pointers, to go along with 10 rebounds -- and think the 6-9, 215-pound Layman is one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft.
"It only takes one team to like you," Givoney said. "I wanted to drop him [out of the first two rounds] because he wasn't getting it done, but if you talk to teams, they say this guy is going to get picked in the second round.
"You take a 6-9, super-athletic guy who can shoot 3s and stays in his lane and knows how to play, you take a flier on him because it's really, hard to find those guys. The profile is what is going to get him drafted."
Givoney thinks that Layman is "a tease" whose stock is going to be affected more by what he does in individual workouts than what he does this season with the Terps.
"He's going to go to some workouts, he's not going to miss, he's going to be flying up and down the floor, they're going to look at his size and say, 'You never know, some guys are much better pros than college players,'" Givoney said.
As others have before, Givoney compares Layman to former Florida star Chandler Parsons.
"He wouldn't have been drafted if the draft was in April, but he went into workouts and scouts were saying, 'There's a lot of upside that hasn't been tapped into,'" Givoney said. "He goes in the second round and now he's a guy who's almost a max [contract] player in the NBA."
Despite not having them on his board in either of the first two rounds, Givoney said that he likes both Carter, a junior power forward, and Sulaimon, a senior guard.
Givoney believes that most scouts are concerned with Carter's defense and though he has met and likes Sulaimon, some question the character of a player who was kicked off the Duke team by its legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
"Carter is a guy we've been watching since he was 16 years old and he's always kind of a guy you're expecting a little bit more from," Givoney said. "I know his defense is getting a little bit better, but he's a very poor defender and that's going to hurt him a little bit.
"I'm not going to say he isn't going to get drafted. There's a good chance he will. But if you're a power forward in the NBA these days and you're not a knock-down shooter and you can't really guard anybody, who are you? What do you do?"
Givoney said that he "loves" Sulaimon and has even done two videos breaking down his game.
"I'm all about Sulaimon," Givoney said.
Givoney said that Sulaimon might not get drafted because of sheer numbers, which include a dozen or so players a year coming from overseas.
"You have 30 players in college basketball right now who are going to be in the NBA next year," Givoney said. "Is he one of the 30 best players in college basketball? I don't think so. I really like the kid, I think he has a great chance to make a team because he's versatile."