Maryland exceeded expectations this past season going 28-7 in their first year in the Big 10 and now they've exceeded expectations on the recruiting front with the unexpected commitment of five-star center Diamond Stone. The 6’10” big man from Milwaukee committed to Maryland on Friday night and in turn significantly raised expectations for the Terps in 2015-16.
|Diamond Stone - Maryland|
Diamond Stone’s name first popped on the radar early on in 2012 as he established himself as one of the top players in his class back as an overpowering freshman. He won a Wisconsin Division 4 championship during his first year of high school and just capped off his fourth title in a row at Dominican high school with a 23 point, 15 rebound performance over a week ago. Through it all, Stone maintained his status as one of the top players in his class while holding down the No. 1 ranking at times and is now considered a consensus top five player.
Over the past two summers, Stone was a regular with the USA basketball program and won gold medals in 2013 at the U16 FIBA Americas and in 2014 at the U17 FIBA World Championship. He started all 12 games for the U.S. and averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in 2013 and 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds this past summer.
Stone’s recruitment is similar to that of a long, windy road with many twists and turns. Wisconsin and Marquette established themselves early on in Stone’s recruitment. Buzz Williams and Bo Ryan were both seen all over Wisconsin watching Stone’s high school and AAU teams play. Marquette was rumored to be the early leader with Stone taking numerous unofficial visits to the campus right next door. Soon schools from all over the country joined in the race as Stone racked up offers from Georgetown, Indiana, and UCLA. It wasn’t long before the two Tobacco Road powers entered the scene with both Duke and North Carolina extending offers. Both Coach K and Roy Williams took multiple trips up to Wisconsin during Stone’s junior year, but neither one made the final four cut. As soon as Buzz left for Virginia Tech, Marquette dropped out (as they also received a commitment from Henry Ellenson). The four schools that remained were Wisconsin, Connecticut, Oklahoma State, and Maryland. To most pundits, Maryland was the surprise pick and seemed like a long shot. Just this past summer it seemed as though UConn was the leader and the much discussed package deal with Malik Newman was in play. In October, Stone took official visits to all four schools, but it was Mark Turgeon and the Terps that won out in the end.
While Stone’s recruitment has been extremely tight lipped over the years, there appear to be two logical reasons for Stone’s commitment. For one, the Terps are now a Big 10 school and travel throughout the Midwest but more importantly they are an Under Armour program. Stone has played on the Under Armour AAU circuit the past few years with the apparel company sponsoring the Young Legends from Milwaukee, which is a team that was started by Stone’s father. This year the Young Legends will have their 16U team competing in the Under Armour Association. Maryland made a strong push two years ago for the Harrison twins using their Under Armour connection, but now they have landed their highest rated recruit in recent memory.
After going 9-9 in the ACC and missing the NCAA tournament in 2014, the Terps suffered a tumultuous off-season losing five players to transfer including starting guard Seth Allen and big man Charles Mitchell. The Terps brought in a strong freshmen class to offset the transfers and Melo Trimble, the Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year exceeded all expectations as he led the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. The Terps shocked Iowa State early on in the season and then went into East Lansing in their first Big 10 game and emerged victorious. While they went down in the Round of 32 to West Virginia, the Terps really only lose their second leading scorer in Dez Wells and guard Richard Pauk who averaged under six points a game. With Trimble returning, the Terps will have some fire power to go along with a smooth shooting sophomore Jared Nickens and a potential first round draft pick in Jake Layman. In addition to Stone, the Terps return sophomore Damonte Dodd, freshman Michal Cekovsky, and gain the services of former Georgia Tech big man Robert Carter. The future is bright in College Park as the Terps look to take over the top spot in the Big 10.
At 6’10”, 246 pounds, Stone is the most complete low post player in the 2015 class. While people should not expect him to put up Jahlil Okafor numbers, Stone is similar to the current top freshman in the country in that they both know their strengths lie down low. Stone has a good set of hands when passes are sent his way and impressive footwork as well. His ability to score with both his right and left hands allows him to convert on jump hooks and up and unders around the basket. While Stone prefers to score close to the basket he is comfortable banking in shots from outside the key and stepping out to 12-15 feet. He has displayed the ability to knock in three’s, but he likely won’t be taking many in college. Stone’s energy level and explosiveness are question marks, but he has shown improvements in both areas recently. A reasonable expectation for Stone’s freshman season would be that of Myles Turner and not Okafor. Turner averaged 10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds a game at Texas this past season which Stone could possibly push to 12 points and seven boards a game. If Stone does that combined with Trimble’s exploits, then Maryland will definitely be playing until at least the second week of the tournament next season.