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Maryland NCAA college women's basketball players, left to right, Mimi Collins, Ashley Owusu, Diamond Miller and Zoe Young question each other during Media Day, Oct. 17, 2019 in College Park, MD.
Maryland NCAA college women's basketball players, left to right, Mimi Collins, Ashley Owusu, Diamond Miller and Zoe Young question each other during Media Day, Oct. 17, 2019 in College Park, MD. (Gail Burton/AP)

In her white No. 2 jersey, Zoe Young looked every bit like a member of the Maryland women’s basketball team. The lone indication that something was off was the 5-foot-10 shooting guard’s slight hesitancy in putting weight on the left ACL that she tore 10 days ago during practice, ending her freshman year before it began.

“Obviously, pretty sad and upset because the season’s over and I was really looking forward to it,” she said during the team’s media day on Thursday inside the Xfinity Center. “But since then, I’ve been surrounded by so much positivity that it’s been a pretty positive process so far.”

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Young, the USA Today Player of the Year in Iowa who was ranked by ESPN as the No. 32 overall player and the No. 8 guard in the country, called the injury “a freak accident.” Despite hearing a pop, she had held out hope that she might have avoided sitting out the entire season.

Coach Brenda Frese, whose Terps are ranked No. 5 in several preseason polls, said Young is scheduled to undergo surgery Oct. 28.

“Definitely disappointing, but it allows her the opportunity to use this redshirt year and come back even stronger,” Frese said. “I’ve been so impressed with her mindset coming out of this and her preparation to move forward.”

Young said the torn ACL is the first major injury of her career.

“I’m just trying to stay positive through it all and attack every day and celebrate small victories and work my way back onto the court,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult, but I’ve got a great supporting staff and family around me. They lift me up constantly every single day. So I have confidence that with their support, I can do it.”

Maryland NCAA college women's basketball head coach Brenda Frese answers questions from player Zoe Young during Media Day, Oct. 17, 2019 in College Park, MD.
Maryland NCAA college women's basketball head coach Brenda Frese answers questions from player Zoe Young during Media Day, Oct. 17, 2019 in College Park, MD. (Gail Burton/AP)

No waiver for Collins

The addition of former Tennessee forward and McDonald’s All-American Mimi Collins in May had raised expectations around the program. But the Waldorf native did not get a waiver from the NCAA and will sit out the upcoming season.

The 6-foot-3 Collins averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14½ minutes per game as a freshman last season for the Lady Volunteers and shot just over 50 percent from the field, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range. Frese said she is looking forward to Collins returning for her sophomore year in the 2020-21 season.

“Excited about what she’s going to be able to bring to the table with her size, talent,” Frese said. “The opportunity for her to focus both in the classroom as well as in the court and use that a year after we graduate four seniors is going to be really invaluable to this team.”

National team experience

Senior shooting guard Kaila Charles was one of only seven current college players to be invited to the U.S. national team’s training camp at the University of Miami last month. Less than two weeks later, the Americans won their third FIBA Women’s AmeriCup in Puerto Rico by defeating Canada in the title game.

The 6-foot-1 Charles, who led last season’s squad in scoring (17.0 points per game) and ranked second in rebounding (6.7 per game) and steals (43 total), said she absorbed how WNBA players such as Seattle Storm guard Jordin Canada, Chicago Sky forward Diamond DeShields and Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles used their voices with each other.

“In the practices, they were always vocal and talking to get the energy up, but they would also pull me to the side and say, ‘Hey, you need to do this,’ or ‘Be more confident,’ or ‘Take your shot. Don’t think about it,’” Charles said. “So that’s something I’ve tried to do once I came back to this team. Just want to encourage my teammates and inspire them to get better.”

Notes: Frese had said she was “in a win-win” situation prior to the start of the WNBA Finals, where six former Terps dotted the rosters of the Washington Mystics and the Connecticut Sun. The Mystics’ series-clinching win in five games was probably disappointing for Sun forwards Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones, but thrilling for Mystics guards Kristi Toliver, Natasha Cloud (who transferred after her freshman year in 2010-11 to St. Joseph’s) and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and forward Tianna Hawkins. “It was an incredible sense of pride for us,” Frese said. “So it was a proud day obviously for all of us and for our Terps in the Finals.” … Frese called sophomore forward Shakira Austin the team’s most improved player thus far as she is stronger and is finishing through contact. “When you’re looking at that freshman-to-sophomore jump and what that looks like oftentimes for players, it looks great for where she’s at,” Frese said of Austin, who set a program single-season record for blocks (89) and averaged 9.5 rebounds and 8.4 points. … Maryland’s 85-80 loss to UCLA in the NCAA tournament marked the first time the school had back-to-back second-round postseason exits since 2004 and 2005, but Frese denied any notion of a hangover. “I think they used it as great motivation in their offseason,” she said of her players. “So I think when you talk about our vets, they’re hungry, they’re motivated. They’ve spent a ton of time when you talk about their offseason. Their leadership has been tremendous. And they’re also going to have some great help, and they’re going to have some additions that quite honestly they needed and are going to be able to help them along.”

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