Analyzing Mady Traore and his fit with Maryland basketball

Maryland basketball filled its final open scholarship slot for the 2023-24 season on Tuesday, as New Mexico State transfer Mady Traore announced his commitment to the Terps.

After guard Ian Martinez announced last week that he would be entering the transfer portal, head coach Kevin Willard wasted no time in finding another versatile player to fill the vacated slot.

Traore, a 6-foot-11 sophomore who moved from France to Cumberland, Maryland and played high school ball at both Bishop Walsh and National Christian Academy, was the No. 33 center and No. 237 player in the 2022 class.

Traore spent his first collegiate season playing for a struggling New Mexico State program that fired its head coach amid alleged hazing incidents involving students on the team. His freshman campaign was short-lived, as the Aggies’ season was canceled on Feb. 12.

In his limited action at New Mexico State, Traore averaged just 1.4 points and under one rebound in his seven games played. He went 1-of-3 from 3-point range last season, which provided a glimpse into his versatility and ability to play multiple positions.

His size and athleticism in the frontcourt will give Willard more options behind big man Julian Reese. With Reese being most effective on the interior, the ability of Traore to stretch the floor will add balance to Maryland’s offense.

Maryland’s backup center role was manned by Patrick Emilien in the 2022-23 season, but his departure has opened up opportunities for others to seize.

Along with Reese at the center position, rising sophomore Caelum Swanton-Rodger will compete with Mady Traore for an opportunity to earn playing time in a backup role as Willard bolsters the rotation’s athleticism and length.

With Martinez in the portal, Maryland’s guard depth has become slightly more thin, but the lack of pieces in the frontcourt seemed to be a bigger need for Willard, which led to the addition of Traore.

His length on the interior has the potential to help control paint production in a conference with many talented big-men.

The return of forward Donta Scott gives Willard more wiggle room when it comes to veteran leadership and trust in the frontcourt. Scott’s return, along with the addition of Indiana transfer Jordan Geronimo, will improve the frontcourt depth and allow Willard to lean on some experienced and athletic forwards for production.

Scott has proved in his four years at Maryland that he is capable of playing both the small or power forward position. His offensive versatility will be crucial in stretches he plays alongside Geronimo and Traore.

In the backcourt, the hole left by Martinez will have to be filled by a younger crop of players.

Highly-coveted newcomers DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jamie Kaiser have a chance to make an immediate impact from day one. Harris-Smith was already expected to get a large chunk of playing time alongside Jahmir Young in the backcourt, but Kaiser is a player who could be thrusted into a larger role with Martinez leaving.

Kaiser, a 6-foot-6 four-star, has the potential to give valuable minutes both off the bench or in a starting role. His energy and length makes him an asset on both ends of the floor.

Chance Stephens, a transfer guard from Loyola Marymount who averaged six points per game in his freshman season, is another crucial piece who could play a larger role now that Martinez has left.

His 3-point shooting will help improve a team that routinely struggled in that area last season, shooting 32%.

With Martinez expected to play a vital role in the Terps’ backcourt, these three young players have the potential to be X-factors in his absence for Maryland’s rotation in the 2023-24 season.

After an offseason that saw many departures and turnover in both the roster and the coaching staff, Willard and the Terps will return a solid chunk of their core from a season ago, but will also have to rely on new faces to find success in the Big Ten.

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