Like so many short-lived marriages, the one between Diamond Stone and Maryland began with strong feelings and unbridled optimism for a successful union.
"I'm excited about this opportunity," Stone said when he signed with the Terps in the spring of 2015. "I'm just looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life."
"He fits perfectly with the personality of our team," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said at the time. "[He] has an insatiable desire to be to be great."
As things turned out, the relationship didn't last long. The acrimonious ending after Stone's departure following his freshman year became even more bitter Friday.
The allegation that Stone received $14,303 from an agent during his only season at Maryland did not come as a surprise to those who have followed college basketball — or the downward trajectory of Stone's professional career.
Former Maryland All-American Len Elmore, a Harvard Law School graduate who for a few years served as an agent for fellow Terps Joe Smith and Walt Williams, was one of them.
"You find ways to get in touch with people," Elmore said. "You don't have to necessarily violate rules in contacting people and having a dialogue. That's not a violation of anything. People have to remember that.
"It's the giving of the improper benefits. It's the oral or written agreement for service while a person still has eligibility that's wrong. From that standpoint, if no one from Maryland is involved — even a facilitation of a meeting — there's nothing you can do."
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Turgeon denied any knowledge of a payment to Stone, who remains the highest-rated recruit the Terps have signed since Turgeon took over the program in 2011 after the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams.
"Late last night we were alerted of a report associating one of our former student-athletes with an agent. We are extremely disappointed, and we will fully cooperate with any investigation," Turgeon said. "I do not have a relationship with [agent] Andy Miller or anyone from his agency, and at no time have I ever had a conversation with Andy Miller or his agency regarding any Maryland basketball player. We remain steadfast in upholding a program of integrity that reflects the values of our University community."
Stone certainly showed his potential during his brief time at Maryland.
After coming off the bench early in the 2015-16 season — much to the displeasure of his father, Bob, according to those familiar with the situation — Stone scored a school freshman record 39 points in his Big Ten debut against Penn State.
As Rasheed Sulaimon walked out of Xfinity Center that night with Stone, whose 32 points in the second half were the most ever by a Maryland player in a half and carried the Terps back from a 13-point deficit, the graduate transfer from Duke looked to reporters typing away at press row.
"Y'all need to write a big story about this freshman here," Sulaimon said with a smile. "He saved our butts."
Said then-junior forward Robert Carter Jr.: "He thinks he's supposed to be great every game."
Maybe it came too easy, or too soon, because the 6-foot-11 manchild with the soft touch never came close to replicating that performance, which also included him getting 12 rebounds.
While Stone finished the year with respectable numbers — 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 22.6 minutes per game — he did not live up to the hype.
In his final game as a Terp, against Kansas in Maryland's first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003, Stone barely showed up, finishing with five points and four rebounds. As his teammates sat sullen in the locker room, Stone smiled and joked.
Diamond Stone played one season, 2015-16, at Maryland before leaving for the NBA Draft. He had some highlights for the Terps, but wasn't the dominant center he was supposed to be as a Top 10 national recruit.
By The Baltimore Sun
Feb 23, 2018 at 11:50 AM
By then, few expected him to return for his sophomore year since most knew he had stopped going to class earlier in the season, according to sources.
After Stone confirmed a random tweet in mid-April about him turning pro by retweeting it, Bob Stone said he hadn't talked to his son about his decision.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," the elder Stone, a former Division II All-American himself, said at the time.
Considered a potential high lottery pick coming out of high school in Milwaukee, Stone's stock had dropped precipitously during his one year of college basketball.
Stone was selected 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded on draft night to the Los Angeles Clippers, a move that foreshadowed how his pro career would unfold.
"I probably have the biggest chip of the draft," Stone said that night. "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."
Actually, the Pelicans probably came out ahead in their deal with the Clippers, who traded Stone to the Atlanta Hawks after he played just seven games with them as a rookie. The Hawks cut Stone after he played with them in the summer league.
Even the Windy City Bulls, the G League team Stone signed with before this season, traded him to the Salt Lake City Stars for a third-round G League pick and the rights to Henry Sims (Mount Saint Joseph), who is currently playing in Europe.
Though one of the more prominent players listed on spread sheets used by NBA agent Andy Miller and his staff at ASM Sports, as unveiled in the Yahoo Sports report Friday, Stone was not the only bust among the players listed.
Former LSU guard Tim Quarterman, who is also in the G League, and former Kansas guard Elijah Johnson, who is playing in Israel, both reportedly received more than Stone.
Stone actually commanded more than future No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, who was then a senior at DeMatha High on his way to one season at the University of Washington.
As for the impact Stone's alleged involvement will have on the Maryland program, that's hard to gauge.
The FBI investigation that spurred the Yahoo report is still ongoing, and it seems clear that shoe companies other than Adidas are being looked at for their involvement with agents and players.
To date, Maryland has not been named for any connection aside from Stone.
"As long as no official or any administrative things come up, as long as there's nobody on staff facilitating the involvement, then I think this is kind of a one-off thing that no one can do anything about," Elmore said.
As for Stone, Elmore said the former five-star prospect will be quickly forgotten by fans who celebrated his arrival in College Park with lollipops shaped like diamond engagement rings.
“Going forward, it just allows people to dismiss him as another misguided and potentially immature young man that went through the system and it didn’t work out for him,” Elmore said.
Freshman center Bruno Fernando has never come close to scoring as many point in a game as Stone did against Penn State, but Fernando's potential now appears to be greater.
The arrival next season of Maryland’s latest McDonald’s All-American, Mount Saint Joseph star Jalen Smith, will likely push Stone further into the shadows.
Even before Friday's report, Stone was already being viewed in the same vein as Jordan Williams, a player who left Maryland too soon and accomplished little during a short-lived NBA career.
Elmore, who came to College Park with similar hype in 1971 out of New York’s Power Memorial Academy, where he followed a legend named Lew Alcindor, said Stone’s legacy is now set.
“His legacy is essentially what could have been. That’s the shame of it,” Elmore said. “He had an opportunity probably in his second year to be a potential lottery pick had he stayed and worked it with the staff and with Mark over the summer. He probably could have been just a better basketball player.”
Instead, he has been drawn into the scandal rocking the college basketball world.