Will Maryland underclassmen stay or will they go?

Will Maryland underclassmen stay or will they go?
Maryland guard Melo Trimble, from left, forward Robert Carter and center Diamond Stone watch from the bench. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

A year ago, there were questions about whether Melo Trimble would return for his sophomore season at Maryland.

A year ago, there was doubt about whether Diamond Stone would even pick the Terps over home-state Wisconsin and Connecticut.


A year ago, there was a quiet confidence that Robert Carter Jr. would become a more dominant inside player at Maryland than he was his first two years at Georgia Tech.

There are still questions about all three players after Thursday's season-ending 79-63 loss to top-seed Kansas here in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament South Regional.

But there is one clear truth: Though all appear to have the confidence needed to play, none of them are ready to make the jump to the NBA.

That doesn't mean Trimble, Stone and Carter won't join seniors Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon at the NBA's open combines and closed-door workouts that take place before the NBA draft in late June.

That doesn't mean all three won't opt to forgo the rest of their college eligibility and try to show general managers, coaches and scouts what they didn't against the Jayhawks and, for the most part, in their team's two NCAA tournament wins.

It's not only about readiness when it comes to the NBA draft; it's also about timeliness.

Former Terp Alex Len wasn't ready three years ago, certainly not from an offensive standpoint. It didn't stop Len from leaving after his sophomore year or prevent the Phoenix Suns from picking the 7-1 center from Ukraine fifth overall.

Neither Stone nor Trimble will go anywhere near that high, and Carter might not be drafted at all. But in what is generally considered a weak draft — especially for point guards and, to a certain extent, underdeveloped big men — all three will seriously have to consider their options.

If the game against the Jayhawks was the measuring stick, questions were raised about all three.

Stone, who finished with just five points in 21 minutes and had as many personal fouls as rebounds (four), was badly outplayed by junior Landen Lucas, who had a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double. Lucas, who came in averaging 5.7 points and 6.6 rebounds, is nowhere to be found on any mock draft boards this year or next.

Trimble finished with 17 points, but needed 16 shots (making five) and also missed six of his seven 3-point attempts. One of the best freshmen in the country a year ago, Trimble lost his jump shot and aura this season after injuring his hamstring in early January.

Carter, who dropped nearly 20 pounds since he transferred from Georgia Tech, couldn't stop Perry Ellis from dropping 27 points on the Terps. Mark Turgeon turned to little-used Michal Cekovsky, and the move worked for a little while before Ellis' old-school game took over.

The NBA's new rules allow players to go through the process of declaring their eligibility early and — as long as they don't sign with an agent — withdrawing their names by mid-June to return to college.

There were hints that could be taken either way, but one that seemed pretty strong by Stone.


When asked what he would remember from his first — and possibly only — year at Maryland, Stone smiled.

"Just laughs," he said. "There are times in the locker room when you just laugh, laugh, laugh. After practices, you would dance in the locker room. I'll miss being around it. I'll miss telling [teammate] Varun [Ram] to get to class. I'll miss everything."

Acknowledging for the first time that the chemistry might not have been perfect with three new starters in the lineup, Trimble said, "It was hard to be effective at both ends.

"It's tough to have one year to try to get better all in one season. I feel like if we had two years together, we'll be reaching our goals and get far in the tournament, but the sky's still the limit if we had another chance," Trimble said.

Turgeon will have to get some idea of their plans to move forward for next season. The good news is that many of Maryland's Big Ten competitors will also be quite busy.

If Stone decides to leave, which seems likely given the fact that he is a lock to be a first-round pick and could find his way to remain in the lottery (top 14), Turgeon will have to do his best to get Carter to return as a fifth-year, 22-year-old senior. The selling point: With Stone and Trimble gone, Carter could be the main focus.

If Trimble decides to go, which also seems to be the way these winds are blowing since next year's draft will be chock full of point guards, Turgeon will have to do his best to find another graduate transfer in the mold of Sulaimon to help take the pressure off incoming freshman Anthony Cowan Jr.

And if Carter decides to complete this trifecta — despite the fact that he just recently made a couple of mock drafts as a late second-round pick — Turgeon will have to go the JuCo or European route or hope that a player such as Hawaii's Stefan Jankovic might show up at Xfinity Center with the Rainbow Warriors on NCAA probation.

Turgeon was upbeat early Friday, as he stood outside his team's dressing room, talking about how he told Layman that "we're going to keep it rolling" in the future.

Yet the future certainly seemed more uncertain than after last year's second-round loss to West Virginia, when all the talk was about how Dez Wells had helped put the Terps "back on the map."

Asked about the difference between this year and last, Turgeon said, "I don't think I looked forward on this day because it was about the seniors. We lost seven of them.

"We'll have some decisions to make. We've got some good players coming in, the good players coming back. It's Maryland basketball. I believe in myself; I believe in my staff. We'll make good decisions for the kids, and we're going to recruit well."

Depending on the decisions of Stone, Trimble and Carter, how much and how well the Terps recruit might determine next season in College Park.