"Every big [man] picked in front of me, it’s just like when I see them, it’s going to be war," said Diamond Stone after being selected in the second round of the NBA draft. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Diamond Stone did not have a going-away party at Maryland after his freshman year, as Jake Layman and three others did in March on Senior Night at Xfinity Center last season.
Stone did not have much of a going-away party Thursday, either.
Expecting to be picked in the first round of the NBA draft, Stone wound up sitting in the stunned silence of a campus apartment rec room as his name wasn't called until early in the second round.
When it was announced that Stone had been picked No. 40 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans – and immediately sent in a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers – the room broke out in applause.
A few minutes later, Stone talked about using the first-round snub as motivation.
"I probably have the biggest chip of the draft," Stone said. "I'm hungry. Every big [man] picked in front of me, it's just like when I see them, it's going to be war. I've just got to play my hardest every game and show these people why it was a mistake to sleep on me."
Layman went seven picks later to the Orlando Magic, but is expected to be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for $1.2 million and a future draft pick.
The other Maryland player who had been mentioned for this year's draft, Robert Carter Jr., did not get chosen and reportedly signed with the Golden State Warriors. Carter, who played just one season for the Terps after transferring as a junior from Georgia Tech, also opted to sign with an agent.
Asked if he second-guesses himself for signing with an agent and not leaving him any chance to return for his sophomore year, Stone said, "I think I have a good team with Tandem [Sports and Entertainment], great parents. If I do it all over, I still would have come out. It didn't play like we wanted to play, but I'm just going to make the best of my decision."
If there was any small solace to the disappointment of the night, it was that it happened away from the national spotlight.
Unlike others who ventured to New York, sitting at the Barclays Center for all the country to see and painfully waiting until their names were called in the first round – or not called until the second round - Stone did it in relative privacy except for a few members of the local media.
Stone was joined by family, a couple of friends from home, Maryland assistant coach Bino Ranson and former teammate Damonte Dodd.
Actually, Stone was in a back conference room, catching up with friends he hadn't seen in a few months while his parents nervously watched the first round unfold.
Stone's father, Robert, a former small-college All-American at Wisconsin-Whitewater in the 1970s, said at one point that he was glad not to be in New York waiting for his son to be chosen.
"That must be really hard," the elder Stone said as the camera panned to other players who had yet to be picked – and their parents.
At one point toward the end of the first round, Cynthia Stone walked into a glass-encased conference room where agents Jim Tanner and Derrick Powell were sitting, and closed the door.
Stone wasn't alone in his disappointment.
Given that nearly half of the first 20 picked played internationally – along with well-traveled 7-1 high schooler Thon Maker at No. 10 and former Michigan standout guard Caris LeVert, who missed most of the last two seasons with a nagging foot injury – several big men projected for the top half of the first round waited longer than expected.
Among them was former Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, who came out of high school as the No. 2 player behind Ben Simmons and struggled for much of his freshman year at Kentucky. Labissiere went No. 28 overall to the Phoenix Suns.
Melo Trimble, who like Stone was projected as a possible first-round pick for the first half of his sophomore year before a nagging hamstring injury led to a prolonged shooting slump, opted to go without an agent after putting his name into the draft.
After a disappointing performance at the NBA combine in Chicago in May, where Carter solidified his status as a potential second-round choice, Trimble decided to take his name out of the draft and return to school for his junior year.
While what happened to Stone is not the same situation as what transpired with former Maryland standout Jordan Williams in 2011, there are some similarities. Williams made the ACC All-Freshman team, as Stone did in the Big Ten last season. Williams was a third-team All-American as a sophomore.
Though Williams wasn't as highly projected as Stone coming out after his sophomore year, many thought he was taking a gamble. It didn't pay off, as Williams fell to the second round, No. 36 overall to the New Jersey Nets, and was out of the league after two years.