With the expected graduation of senior All-Americans Brionna Jones (Aberdeen) and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, the Maryland women's basketball team was bound to fall off somewhat next season.
Now that the Terps have lost point guard Destiny Slocum, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's National Freshman of the Year, as well, we're starting to get a sense of just how far the fall could be.
Ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press' poll since January 2015, Maryland checked in at No. 17 in ESPN's Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2017-18.
"Losing two All-Americans such as Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough was going to be hard enough, but Destiny Slocum's decision to transfer after just one season in College Park, Maryland, was an unexpected blow," ESPN's Charlie Creme wrote. "The good news is Slocum (11.5 PPG and 6.0 APG last season) was part of the nation's top recruiting class a year ago. Stephanie Jones and Kaila Charles will lead the way with veteran help from Ieshia Small and Kristen Confroy and the addition of Florida transfer Eleanna Christinaki."
Connecticut is No. 1, with a roster that would make anything but a perfect season twice as surpising as the Huskies' Final Four loss to Mississippi State.
Ohio State, which returns Big Ten Conference Player of the Year Kelsey Mitchell, is No. 3, the highest ranking for a league team. The Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team to have defeated Maryland in its three years of league play, and they should be the preseason favorite for the first time since the Terps joined the conference.
Maryland will not be without early opportunities to prove it belongs in the Top 25, where it has resided since the start of the 2010-11 season. The Terps host reigning national champion South Carolina (No. 6 on ESPN's 2017-18 Top 25) on Nov. 13 and are set to face the Huskies in Storrs, Conn., later in nonconference play.