On Monday afternoon the Associated Press released their NCAA men’s basketball poll for week four of the 2018-29 season. After winning their first six games of the season, the Maryland Terrapins find themselves ranked No. 24 in the nation. This is the first time since February of 2017 that the Terps have been in the AP top-25.
This early emergence in the top-25 may come as a surprise considering what happened in the offseason. Mark Turgeon was able to recruit another strong class but losing starters like Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson to the NBA draft was a huge loss. Even after retaining key players like Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando, voters and media personalities struggled to pin down Maryland. Some had them finishing toward the top of the conference while others failed to see how they could build any momentum with such a young core. However, it appears many are starting to become convinced that this young Terps squad can make some noise this year.
Having Maryland in the top 25 will also be great for the upcoming ACC / Big Ten challenge as the Terps prepare to host Virginia on Wednesday November 28. The Cavaliers are currently ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and are coming off the heels of a nice 53-46 win over No. 25 Wisconsin.
This Wednesday’s nationally televised game will surely be a good one as Virginia receives their first big road test and the Terps will get their first chance for a resume win. The importance of this matchup cannot be stressed enough. The Big Ten currently has seven teams in the AP top-25 but Maryland may only get the chance to host a ranked team one or two more times this season.
The last time these two teams met was in December of 2014. The Terps knocked off the Cavilers in their final ACC home game earlier that year but Virginia would get it’s revenge on Maryland by taking them down in the ACC / Big Ten challenge. Almost four years later, there is still no love lost between these former conference foes.
Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP
Kevin Huerter was faced with a tough decision just a few weeks ago. Stay at the University of Maryland for his junior year or declare for the NBA draft? On May 30, Huerter surprised many with his announcement that he would be forgoing his final two years at Maryland to declare for the NBA draft.
The decision was initially met with both support and criticism but on Thursday night it all paid off as Huerter was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 19th overall pick. Huerter becomes just the third player from Maryland to be drafted in the first round in the last ten years. Alex Len was taken with the fifth overall pick in 2013, marking the only other first round selection to come out of the Mark Turgeon era.
The Terrapins suffered a disappointing 2017-18 season after losing some key players to injury, but through all that frustration Huerter was a constant bright spot. The sophomore averaged 14.8 points, 5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game but really made himself a threat by shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the three point line.
Just a few months ago Huerter was not on the radar of many NBA scouts. However, the 19-year-old was invited to the NBA combine in May where he put on a show in shooting drills and five-on-five scrimmages. By the end of those four days in Chicago, Huerter had the attention of every scout and a lot of major media outlets as well. All of sudden his name was showing up in mock drafts and there was almost a unanimous sense around the league that he would be a first round pick.
The only thing holding Huerter’s draft potential back was a torn ligament in his right hand. It was reported that Huerter suffered the injury while playing Northwestern this past February, but it was not serious enough to sideline him. A few months later the injury in his shooting hand was still lingering, but it didn’t seem to have a negative impact on his combine performance.
Last week Huerter announced he had undergone surgery to repair the injury but would be sidelined for two months as a result. This might have turned some teams away but others in the media believed Huerter had already done enough to secure a spot in the first round.
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COLLEGE PARK, MD — After being sidelined for the past three games, it was revealed on Thursday afternoon that forward Justin Jackson has a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The injury will sideline Jackson for the rest of the 2017-18 season.
Head coach Mark Turgeon made the announcement during practice on Thursday and said that the team has been waiting to see the severity of the sophomore’s injury. “After evaluating Justin’s shoulder over the past few weeks – which included extensive rehabilitation and rest , we feel the best course of action is for Justin to move forward with surgery.”
Jackson played in 11 games this season, averaging 9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He enjoyed a great deal of success in his freshman season and even garnered some attention when the NBA draft rolled around. The Toronto native decided to return to Maryland for his sophomore year and was expected to be one of the leaders of the young team as he continued to grow as a player.
This injury is devastating to say the least. Not only for Jackson, but for the team as a whole. Conference play is about to start as the new year approaches, but the Terps will have to rely on their other sophomores, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan, to carry the weight. In addition to this, the freshman will have to make some big improvements if Maryland is going to secure a trip to the NCAA tournament.
“Justin has an extremely bright future,” said Turgeon. “And I am confident he will continue to be an outstanding and impactful basketball player.”
Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press