Well, no, it wasn't the national championship that Terrapin Nation had dreamt of during the past six months. Maryland's NCAA tournament run ended unceremoniously against Kansas in the Sweet 16.
However, Maryland fans did get to see Villanova, boasting a roster chock-full of DMV products, win it all in dramatic fashion against former Terps Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina in Houston April 4.
In an unforgettable finish, Wildcats junior forward Kris Jenkins, an Upper Marlboro, Md., product, drilled a buzzer-beater to give Villanova a 77-74 win and its first national title in 31 years. Jenkins finished with 14 points. Josh Hart, a junior guard from Silver Spring, Md., had 12 points a game after torching Oklahoma for 23. Senior center Daniel Ochefu, born in Baltimore, added nine points. And sophomore guard Phil Booth, a Mount St. Joseph graduate, had 20 points off the bench to spark the Wildcats.
For those counting at home, that means 55 of the 77 points it took to win it all came from players who were born, bred or at least balled in close proximity to College Park, Md. The bad news is none of those guys actually chose Maryland as their college destination. The good news is there will be plenty more like them for Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon as he continues his efforts to build the Terrapin program back into a national powerhouse.
While many Maryland fans had their sights set well beyond the Sweet 16 this season, it was still a successful campaign for Turgeon's Terps. Their 27 wins tied for the fourth most in program history. The Terps advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 13 years, a drought that included five consecutive second-round losses. Sophomore point guard Melo Trimble was named an honorable mention All-American despite struggling down the stretch.
While Trimble could still potentially return to the Terps next season, Maryland's other star underclassmen -- freshman center Diamond Stone and junior forward Robert Carter Jr. -- will not. Stone and Carter have announced they will declare for the NBA Draft and hire an agent, meaning they can't return to College Park. Trimble has said he will explore his draft possibilities but will not seek an agent, which means he could change his mind and return.
But what will the Terps look like next season? The deadline for players to withdraw their names from the NBA Draft is pushed back to May 25 this season, meaning guys like Trimble can more thoroughly test the waters before making a final decision. Here's a look at the current state of Maryland's lineup, as well as a few ideas about who will replace those who have already played their final game in the red, gold and black:
Jake Layman: It was quite a career for Layman, who finishes 18th on Maryland's all-time scoring list. He flirted with the NBA last year before deciding to return for his senior season. He set career highs in field-goal percentage (50) and 3-point percentage (39.6) this year and has the length and shooting ability NBA teams crave. Layman thrived as a power forward, an attractive feature with the proliferation of small ball in full swing. He's currently slotted to go 45th overall by DraftExpress.com.
Rasheed Sulaimon: Sulaimon is the only Maryland starter not projected to be drafted by DraftExpress.com. Like the Terp he replaced, Sulaimon may have to go the free-agent route. Dez Wells, after going undrafted last summer, played in the NBA Development League this season. Sulaimon was considered a potential lottery pick three years ago after his freshman season at Duke. While he could still land in the NBA, his story serves as a cautionary tale for some of the other guys on this list.
Declared For NBA Draft
Diamond Stone: There had been a handful of conflicting reports regarding the freshman center's status, but he announced April 11 he will declare for the draft. Stone arrived at Maryland as a five-star recruit and a classic one-and-done candidate, and he did nothing to disrupt that outlook after a stellar rookie campaign. He averaged 12.5 points per game on 56.8 percent shooting and made more than 76 percent of his free throws. At nearly 7-foot, Stone is slotted to go No. 23 overall by DraftExpress.com.
Robert Carter Jr.: Carter might be the most interesting next-level candidate of the bunch. He sat out a year after transferring from Georgia Tech. After not showing up on NBA radars for most of the season, he decided to pull the plug on his Maryland career after only a year. DraftExpress.com currently has him going 51st overall. There is nothing more in vogue in today's NBA than a skilled and mobile big man with length, and that is what Carter brings. He could be a late riser on NBA Draft boards.
Melo Trimble: The All-American sophomore has a tough decision on his hands. He could have been a lottery pick a year ago and was even projected that high a few months back. But an icy stretch to close the season has many thinking he'd be best served by another go-round in College Park, which is probably why he will not be hiring an agent. Trimble is currently projected to go No. 34 by DraftExpress.com, and second-round picks are not guaranteed contracts. Even with his struggles, Trimble did flash some impressive passing skills this season.
Who Will Replace Them?
Fear not, Maryland fans, there will still be plenty of talent to go around in College Park. Maryland will have capable wings in Dion Wiley (returning from knee surgery) and Jared Nickens. They'll have size in Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky. And they'll have three four-star freshmen in guards Anthony Cowan Jr. and Kevin Huerter and forward Micah Thomas, all of whom rank in or near the top 100 prospects by recruiting service Rivals.com. So even if this season didn't go exactly as planned for Maryland, it might be just the start.
Issue 220: April 2016