While this game was uneven in terms of competition, South Alabama’s Julian Margrave emerged as an obvious sleeper. In addition to the breakout performance, Donta Scott had a strong game off the bench, Jahmir Young remains an interesting guard prospect, DeShawn Harris-Smith was very impactful without scoring, and is Julian Reese a prospect? Let’s break these down:
When watching this, I was almost exclusively scouting for Deshawn Harris-Smith and Donta Scott, as Scott’s toolset plus size and experience is an interesting combination. However, South Alabama’s Julian Margrave continued to make difficult shot after difficult shot, which caught my attention. Margrave is only a sophomore and is 6’10 with real shooting skill that should translate up to high major, should he dominate the Sun Belt Conference this season. With turnaround jumpers, an acrobatic reverse layup, and successful spot-up shooting, Margrave’s game translates well given his height. This was his last and only chance to play a high major team before a potential NCAA Tournament or other postseason tournament appearance. With upside as a 6’10 off-ball scorer, Margrave’s creative skillset with his back to the basket makes him difficult to defend.
Margrave finished the game with 18 points on 8-13 shooting, along with 4 rebounds and 1 block.
Donta Scott finished the game with 19 points off the bench, along with 7 rebounds on 7-13 shooting. Most of his shots came off of off-ball sets for him to spot up and shoot, with some against the zone and some off of movement, outside of a post-up and putback. This early-season game begs the question: what position and role does Donta Scott play, who is listed at 6’8/230, at the next level? He lacks finishing efficiency but can bang in the post when needed, and he can spot-up from 3, but has lacked consistent 3 point percentages, albeit 76% from the free throw line in his 5 years at Maryland is promising. With some mechanical adjustments, Scott could make a leap to the NBA G League and prove himself in a fast-paced environment, potentially playing more to his strengths with better spacing, thus leading to improved overall efficiency. If that is the case, he has a path to working himself into an Exhibit 10 or 2-way deal in the future. His pro upside ultimately comes down to how efficient his jump shot can become.
Jahmir Young remains an interesting prospect, who didn’t make a ton of noise in this game, but still controlled the offense well. He finished with 16 points on 5-16 shooting with 4 assists to 3 turnovers, along with 1 steal and 1 rebound. Young is another player whose game may be better on display in a better spaced and faster G League, being able to showcase crisp passing and controlled slashing using his change of pace to his advantage. While this game was inefficient for him, his ability to attack closeouts and score off of screens makes him difficult to guard. The big obstacle for Young is how much his lack of explosion will impact him, and how he counters it and uses his weakness to his advantage.
DeShawn Harris-Smith struggled to get going as a scorer in this game, but was nearly perfect on the defensive end, helping him earn every one of his 31 minutes. His continued success as an off-ball defender by making proper and timely rotations was impressive. Offensively, while he went 0-5 with all of his shots being 3s, he did have 5 assists which were products of instinctual passing and quick decision-making against an active zone defense. His ability to find the holes, understand his role in connecting offense, and reading the defense are a continuation of his high school film as an intelligent passer. Wings that can be trusted to keep the offense moving in an unselfish manner are valuable, especially when they are hitting shots. As Harris-Smith improves his jumper, he will be able to thrive in this role as an ideal complementary piece as an intelligent & trustworthy wing on both ends.
Lastly, Julian Reese is an interesting prospect because of his productivity in the paint, but being a listed 6’9 without much of a jump shot makes him difficult to truly project translating to the NBA. While Reese has tried some mid range jumpers, he is 0-3 on jump shots this year, and being a career 60% free throw shooter suggests limited shooting upside. Maryland’s spacing, or lack thereof, naturally clogs the paint given the Terrapins’ personnel (only 2 players take more than 1 three per game). Context is always important to note with college players, so Reese could be a G League prospect if he produces enough in the paint while rebounding and defending at a high level. Reese did what he was supposed to do against low-major competition, recording 19 points on 7-8 shooting with 15 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 4 blocks.
Overall, this Maryland team has some holes offensively that can exaggerate weaknesses for shooters, but the context of this team matters when evaluating for the NBA Draft. Additionally, shooting will be a strong swing factor for the Terrapin prospects as each of these players’ stock drastically shifts north if they can shoot a respectable percentage from 3 and/or from the free throw line with good volume. Watch for Maryland as a unique matchup against other Big 10 prospects throughout conference play, as Maryland will play some in-conference opponents as early as this week.