Over the next month, NCAA.com will update teams going on summer trips and what they need/hope to accomplish.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his staff had the best possible NBA draft experience.
Their players tested the process, wanted to be coached/advised by them, listened and were pleased with the outcome.
Sophomore forward Bruno Fernando wasn’t likely going to be a first-round pick and returned to the Terrapins.
Sophomore forward Justin Jackson, who was hurt for most of last season and only played in 11 games, was going to stay in the draft regardless and got selected in the second round at No. 43 (by Denver and traded to Orlando).
"He is an NBA level shooter, he's got an excellent stroke...he may have the best footwork of any shooter in the draft."— Maryland Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) June 22, 2018
- Jay Bilas on @KevinHuerter #NBADraft || #FearTheTurtle pic.twitter.com/uTYpNbAADJ
“The thing I loved about it is that Fernando and Kevin did it the right way,’’ said Turgeon. “They kept me involved. They stayed on campus. They worked out with us. We did a great job preparing our guys of the (NBA draft) combine (in Chicago). They gathered the information.
“It was the most fun I’ve had in the process since I’ve been a head coach,’’ said Turgeon. “The guys let me work them out. They didn’t feel like they had to have someone else work them out. They listened to me and let me make phone calls and trusted me. All you want is for your kids to make the right decisions. Justin was leaving anyway. Kevin and Fernando trusted me and the process.’’
This is exactly how it should work. There shouldn’t be an us vs. them mentality on deciding on the NBA draft. There shouldn’t be a need to escape and have someone else prep them when they have all the amenities and workout staff on campus where they should be comfortable. There should be buy in from all parties. Maryland prepped Huerter and Bruno on what to expect at the combine from speed and agility to strength work.
And when Huerter made the decision to stay in the draft, Turgeon was at his family’s house in Clifton Park, N.Y., for the night of the draft to celebrate his selection.
This NBA draft experience for Turgeon on the outside looked like a negative in losing Huerter and Jackson and only getting back Bruno. But it worked out exceptionally well and created a positive vibe setting up the summer.
Maryland will head to Rome, Venice, Florence and Lake Como in Italy on Aug. 4, getting in 10 practices sprinkled in from July 10th on.
This had to be a critical offseason in all things Maryland basketball after what Turgeon described as a disappointing season. Maryland went 19-13 overall, 8-10 in the Big Ten, and was kept out of the postseason after a 24-9, 12-6 Big Ten, NCAA tournament first-round appearance the previous season.
“Our culture is really good right now, which is fun,’’ said Turgeon.
The focus during the summer practices and on the trip will be to gain valuable experience for the backups, who will most likely be freshmen.
“We’re going to start one freshman for sure and all our subs on the perimeter are going to be freshmen,’’ said Turgeon about next season. The one freshman who is likely to start will be 6-10 Jalen Smith, a McDonald’s and Jordan Brand all-American.
Turgeon said Smith will get a ton of reps since senior Ivan Bender is still recovering from a knee injury and won’t be used on the trip, but will come.
The Terps won’t shoot the ball as well without Huerter and his ability to be a stretch player, especially in transition.
Turgeon said the staff has been working with Bruno on extending and expanding his game on the perimeter.
“He will still do his things around the basket,’’ said Turgeon. “He’s worked as hard as any player I’ve coached.’’ He said Smith and Bruno will work well together. Redshirt sophomore Joshua Tomaic and a healthy Bender gives the Terps the necessary experience and versatility up front.
Darryl Morsell and Anthony Cowan are back as the starting guards, with the onus on Cowan to become much more assertive as a leader. Turgeon said Cowan went through a dehydration bout that limited his time on the court and also had an internship during the spring so he wasn’t around as much.
“Anthony can improve the most in being a better floor general and hitting the right spots,’’ said Turgeon. “That’s our task for him for this season.’’
Turgeon said he held back on finalizing the non-conference schedule until after he knew the roster. Once Bruno came back, he locked in on getting Seton Hall at home (first of a two-season home-and-home), Loyola-Chicago in Baltimore (still being finalized but Loyola coach Porter Moser said it's close to being done) and were gifted longtime rival Virginia at home in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The Terps put together a home tournament in November that includes one sneaky quality game against Marshall, a team that beat Wichita State in the round of 64 last March and returns its best player in Jon Elmore (22.7 ppg). Maryland’s home-and-home Big Ten games in the new 20-game Big Ten schedule will include projected upper-half conference foes Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin, let alone always tough games with Purdue, Ohio State and Penn State. Getting Indiana at home only and going to Michigan State and Iowa only add to a quality resume slate.