After a relatively lackluster 2012-13 campaign for Maryland basketball in coach Mark Turgeon's sophomore season, it's time to take an early look ahead toward what may be in store for next season.
From a roster standpoint, Maryland will definitely lose four-year bench contributor James Padgett and one-year transfer Logan Aronhalt, as both have exhausted their four years of NCAA eligibility.
I'll speculate a bit and assess under the assumption that likely NBA draft lottery selection Alex Len, arguably the Terps' most valuable asset, will indeed enter his name and join the association next season.
Of course, Len could shock us all and return to College Park for his junior season.
If Len does diverge toward the more likely avenue of leaving early, Maryland's roster won't be in nearly as much despair as you may think. In fact, the Terps will probably be better next season, and here's why.
Seven players return, including the majority of the top contributors.
Slashers Nick Faust, Dez Wells and Seth Allen will all be back, providing speed and athleticism around the perimeter and the ability to attack the basket.
Post players Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell will bring their 270-plus-pound frames back to Maryland, offering valuable girth inside.
Stretch-four Jake Layman, a potential-laden freshman who is super versatile, will be back. Pe'Shon Howard, who struggled mightily in his junior season at point guard, isn't going anywhere either.
So, the Terps surely bring back a strong nucleus, but that won't be enough to get it done in their last season in the ACC.
Maryland's newcomers, a mix of freshmen and transfers, are what pushes the Terps into the category of season-to-season improvement.
Mark Turgeon and his staff inked two commendable pieces over the past year on the recruiting trail.
First, there's point guard Roddy Peters, who not only fills an enormous void on the Terps' depth chart but is a widely heralded player as well. Peters ranks inside of ESPN's top 50 high school seniors.
Local center Damonte Dodd emerged from pure obscurity during his senior season of high school to garner a Maryland scholarship offer, but he wasn't ready to earn minutes at the collegiate level, so he opted to attend prep school for a season.
After one successful year at Massanutten Military Academy alongside the likes of Kansas commit Frank Mason, Dodd will arrive at Maryland ready to help replace Alex Len's production.
Lastly, there's Maryland's most important addition: Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz, a deadly power forward who can score from both inside and out.
Smotrycz, who averaged nearly eight points and five rebounds in just 21 minutes per night in his sophomore season at Michigan, will have benefited from a year on the sidelines.
This past season in college basketball, we saw the power of the redshirt, as Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk, Kansas' Ben McLemore and Arizona State's Jahii Carson have each had an all-conference caliber season after sitting out a season.
Smotrycz, who stands at a broad 6'9'', 235 pounds, could be primed for a similar breakout season, with a skill set similar to Duke's Ryan Kelly. He averaged more than one three-pointer per game his entire career as a Wolverine.
Maryland receives major improvement with the addition of those three players, but more importantly, it fills massive gaps in its depth chart.
The Terps' biggest issue this season was at the point guard position. Next season, freshman Roddy Peters will likely start there, with a combination of Seth Allen and troubled veteran Pe'Shon Howard backing him up.
From a depth chart perspective, you have Peters at point guard, with Wells and Faust at the two wings. Smotrycz will likely start at power forward, with Cleare manning the center position.
Maryland was a very young squad last season, and should receive a pass for not meeting its postseason expectations because of that youth.
With those underclassmen having another season under their belt and the addition of three tremendously important newcomers, Maryland should be in even better shape heading into 2013-14.
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