After being dismissed from the Duke basketball program in late January for what legendary Coach K termed an inability to “consistently live up to standards”, Rasheed Sulaimon has finally found some peace by committing to play for the Maryland Terrapins. A major factor in Sulaimon’s desire to play for Maryland is his relationship with Head Coach Mark Turgeon, who he has known since he was a middle schooler. Having the ability to trust the coaching staff and teammates is important for Sulaimon, particularly after recent reports surfacing about possible sexual assault allegations at Duke, which Sulaimon categorically denies.
After a promising freshman campaign, Sulaimon’s college tenure has had an up-and-down trajectory. However, that does not mean that Sulaimon is without talent. Anyone who denies Sulaimon’s contribution to Duke’s early-season surge isn’t being fair. Sulaimon played the role of an experienced guard off the bench, whose attacking style and defensive athleticism gave the Blue Devils a reliable second unit guy. Despite having a bench role at Duke, Sulaimon has star ability, and Mark Turgeon will look to tap into that talent. Leadership is one area that Sulaimon can have an effect upon, as he will technically be a fourth year player with tournament some experience. With a change of scenery, things should go in the right direction from here for Sulaimon.
What this means for Maryland:
Sulaimon’s commitment is added fuel to Maryland Basketball’s upward trajectory, and puts them in possible contention for a deep tourney run. After this past season, Melo Trimble and Jake Layman made it official that they would both be returning to school, which meant the majority of the core would be kept in place. Despite losing Dez Wells and Evan Smotrycz to graduation, Maryland was able to secure a surprising commitment from five-star center Diamond Stone, giving the team a very good low post option (something they missed last season). This is all in addition to now-eligible burly forward Robert Carter Jr., who decided to transfer into the Maryland program last June. Carter Jr. averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in his sophomore season at Georgia Tech, and looks to produce even more for the Terrapins.
While Sulaimon will bring a scoring touch to go with that of Melo Trimble, many are still wondering if Maryland’s offense will be efficient. Last year, despite having some scoring punch, the numbers on offense hovered closer to the bottom of the rankings, partly because of the heavy isolation style from the backcourt. However, now that they have a mixture of slashers, shooters, low-post brusiers and a more experienced Melo Trimble, Mark Turgeon’s offense should be more eclectic., which should lead to more efficiency.
Does Sulaimon catapult Maryland to Number 1?
If we are considering depth and blend of youth and experience, one has to include Maryland with the likes of North Carolina, Kansas, and Iowa State, who all return valuable production. I expect Maryland to be somewhere in the top-5 when the Pre-Season AP Top-25 Poll comes out. In terms of a tournament run, I see no reason why they aren’t an early favorite for the final four. The team will be bigger down low and will improve on the offensive end of the floor, spelling danger for opponents.
The 2015-16 season looks bright for Mark Turgeon and the Maryland Terrapins.