As the college basketball season inches closer and closer, being just over a month away, Maryland is a team that will have multiple NBA prospects, just with different timelines. Below is the roster breakdown and prospect preview:
DeShawn Harris-Smith, or DHS for short, has gained some fans over the last year between EYBL & high school team performances. Teams already like his toughness, strength, and rim pressure. DHS also has good defensive traits, such as quick feet, body control and recovery ability, and he thrives on taking away space from ball-handlers.
While there is a lot to like about DHS’ game, shooting will be the major swing skill this season at Maryland in determining if he is a one & done or a multi-year prospect. As mentioned in my article from August in a game breakdown, while DHS’ shooting splits look pleasant to the naked eye (50% on catch & shoot 3s in EYBL last year, for example), they have red flags due to volume and peripheral stats such as free throw percentage and off the dribble shooting. In order to get drafted, DHS will need to prove 3 point shooting with efficient rim-scoring going both directions. Read more of my thoughts on DHS from a game breakdown here.
Kaiser was a leading scorer on IMG as a senior, thanks in large part to his efficient 3 point shooting. With a good motor defensively, Kaiser has a good chance to become a prototypical 3&D wing at 6’6. While he has some mechanical concerns about getting his shot off cleanly over defenses, the percentages at IMG and free throw percentage suggest strong shooting touch.
Kaiser can get drafted if he shows consistent shooting with 37+% from 3, 75+% from the free throw line, and consistent defense with flashes of lockdown defense.
A slightly undersized point guard, Young had a good career at Charlotte before transferring to Maryland last year. Defenders still dare Young to be more aggressive and confident attacking right, knowing he heavily favors his left hand, but he can still make defenders pay for their choosy defense. His ability to pull up out of screens makes him hard to sag off of….. As a passer, Young consistently makes good reads in finding rollers, cutters, and shooters with precise passing angles. However, if his scoring cannot explode for periods at times, his passing becomes more limited. For example, if defenses know he will not be a threat to drive and finish his own drive with a layup, they can be more cautious of passes to nearby threats, which heavily reduces Young’s impact with the ball in his hands. With below average functional athleticism, his driving threat can quickly be reduced by defenses. Young’s NBA and pro upside largely depends on how he adds to his scoring arsenal. One game to find an aggressive Jahmir Young as a slasher is the second half at Iowa, but this needs to be something he does every game to stick as a prospect.
Donta Scott is an interesting prospect due to size and skill combination. Defensively, consistency has been an issue, being able to be pushed off of his spots on-ball by smaller players, and his technique he uses to challenge drives needs to be improved. Additionally, he can get lost off-ball easily, often struggling to track both his man and the ball simultaneously. However, Scott has a good motor and aggressively crashes the boards to beat box outs and win rebounds to sometimes make up for lost defense.
On the offensive end, Scott does a good job of always moving without the ball, and this includes crashing the boards to create second chances. Offensively, Scott can force interior shots too often. He has a good jump shot, which may end up being his calling card in the NBA. That being said, Scott has to find a true great skill to hang his hat on for scouts to commit to him as a prospect. He can often turn his back to defenders too much when faced with pressure, which signals that he needs to add counters on his drives, and that he must improve overall as a creator. The combination of improving as a creator, shooting consistency, and how he can improve defensively will be important swing factors in Scott either being a stateside or overseas pro.
The first thing that stood out to me with Lamothe was that his jump shot form needs work. While his touch seems positive, his elbow is pointed too much and he has a bit of a hitch, forcing him to often shoot either too early or too late beyond his ideal release point. A decorated shooter in high school, having made 16 threes in a single game, how his shooting translates to Maryland will be quickly telling of his pro upside.
Lamothe lacks explosion in the half-court as a finisher, which doesn’t bode well for his finishing improving and translating up. In his final EYBL season with Team Durant, he shot 49% at the rim with just 2 dunk attempts, both of which were leak out dunks. Where Jahnathan Lamothe makes his living is playmaking, especially with knifing through zone defenses, creating cuts and spot-up shots through the holes of the zone defense with ease. While turnovers often plagued him, he still sees the floor well and maintained a safely positive assist:turnover ratio in EYBL. What scouts like in Lamothe is his intelligence, motor, and overall intangibles. While he lacks the ideal size of a combo guard at ~6’4, he contains enough skills, strength, and decision-making ability with the ball in his hands for him to be considered a viable long-term prospect at Maryland.
Pierce is an interesting long-term prospect at 7’0 with adequate mobility, jump shooting upside, and a bit of a mixed bag at the rim from his Under Armour circuit stats. With just 10 dunks in 15 recorded games Pierce shot just 55% at the rim, and in the half-court he shot an alarming 50% at the rim. Pierce is a long-term project that will need time to develop, but his archetype is that of a game-changing big.
A transfer from Indiana, Geronimo almost lives up to his name with outstanding athleticism and long arms. Having played behind Trayce Jackson-Davis on the depth chart, Maryland may be able to find something and unlock a higher volume of P&R roll man ability to utilize his athleticism. While his shooting percentages aren’t strong, Geronimo became more comfortable taking jumpers last year, which could unlock an element of upside for scouts to consider. Defensively, Geronimo has the athleticism, length, and motor to stay with multiple positions, but he must improve consistency on the defensive end.
While he will get overlooked by NBA teams, Stephens has lights-out shooting ability. If you are familiar with Max Hooper, Stephens has a similar profile as almost purely a jump shooter with minimal 2 point scoring volume. On the year with Loyola Marymount, he took only 14 2 point attempts, 9 of which were at the rim. Stephens is strictly a shooter, but this role should be successful at Maryland with minimal chance to scale up to the NBA. Regardless of pro upside, Stephens is a fun player worth watching for entertainment value.
If there’s a hidden high upside player on Maryland, Traore is the pick. Buried deep on the depth chart at New Mexico State before the program shut down for the year, Traore’s stats underrate him. At just short of 7’0, Traore has ball skills and realistic room to grow as a shooter, despite minimal results thus far. Traore is the lottery ticket on this roster as a bit of an unknown.