Jahmir Young, Julian Reese talk impact of DeShawn Harris-Smith

No player has drawn more preseason buzz than former Paul VI four-star DeShawn Harris-Smith as the projected starter is expected to team up alongside Jahmir Young to form arguably the Big Ten’s top backcourt tandem. One day after Harris-Smith drew the second-most votes for preseason Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Willard tabbed the former four-star “probably the most physically gifted basketball player I’ve ever been able to coach so far,” and that’s a statement that Jahmir Young agrees with.

“Very physically gifted, very competitive guy. So, I feel like he’s going to help us a lot. He’s going to help us right away,” Young said on the BTN set. “He’s been around the block it seems. He’s very good off ball screens. He gets downhill very well. He’s also a great passer, underrated passer. So, I feel like he’s going to help us a lot.”

“Just, just a dog on the court,” Julian Reese added. “Just brings it every game, every practice. A high competitor, you know, coach…just a great teammate. He sticks with us, and I just can’t wait to play with him.”

More from Willard, Young and Reese:

Willard on what he learned from roster perspective after first season in Big Ten 

“Go get some bigger guys. I think this league, everyone talks about the physicality and it’s really, it is a physical league but it’s more from a standpoint of depth. I mean, every team you play against is well coached. They have great players, and you have to have your ‘A’ game every night, and I think that’s the biggest thing that I learned.”

Willard on other new impact players

Jamie Kaiser has really added, you know, we struggled shooting the basketball last year. Jamie brings toughness, but also maybe one of the more pure shooters that we’ve had. Jordan Geronimo, transfer from Indiana. Jordan’s given us I would say some toughness and some athleticism that I think we really feel we’ve needed. So, I think the guys that we’ve brought in that really complimented these guys. That was my goal. I didn’t want to bring anybody in that was going to be a duplicate. So, everyone we brought in whether it’s a freshman, transfer, I think they’ve really complemented the guys that’s that came back, and I think that’s why I really like this team.”

Willard on his core returner group

“I mean, Julian staying and getting Jahmir early in the process kind of solidified what we were trying to do and then to be able to build around them. And then Donta Scott, not enough people talk about what Donta did last year and his career he’s had so far. These guys gave a lot of hard work. They came together as a team. They sacrificed a lot for each other. And we had a good year and we’re looking to build on that.”

Reese on being mentioned among the top players in the Big Ten 

“It means a lot. Just can’t let it get to our head. It’s preseason, doesn’t really mean anything but it’s great to get the notoriety that I feel like I deserve it. So just build on that and just use that as a motivation.”

Willard on what sparked Reese’s jump in 2022-23

“I think him going through it. We had a stretch where we went [to] Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, and I think him going through that stretch and playing really well, I saw his confidence start to grow. And what most people don’t understand about Julian is he’s a phenomenal worker. He loves to get in the gym. He loves to try to improve his game. And I think going through that stretch, he said, hey, I need some more tricks in my bag. And he went into the gym, and he worked on it, and he just kept getting better and better. And it wasn’t because of anything special, it was him putting a lot of hard work in.”

Reese on Maryland’s dominance at Xfinity Center

“Yeah, it’s a great feeling. My freshman year wasn’t really high attendance for home games and wasn’t really a lot of people coming out and it just means a lot. Winning in front of [my] home, especially me being a native from Maryland, playing in front of my family, winning games, getting it done and just achieving a lot of things. And it’s just a great feeling overall.”

Young on how Maryland can become a better road team

“Really just how we handle adversity. Make sure we stay connected as a team, make sure we have a next play mentality, really. And really just trying to grind it out. It’s very tough on the road so being able to stay connected is something that we emphasize.”

Reese on what fueled his sophomore year jump

“Just taking my time, staying, staying true to the grind, watching a lot of film and I have to give a lot of props to coach Grant Billmeier from last year, just staying locked in with me and believing in me. I feel like it’s all in the mind and just attacking things. I feel like when I’m on the court and just attacking, I feel like I can do whatever.”

Young on making an impact at Maryland 

“Just coming in, just making the jump, just new system, higher level of play. So really coming in trying to make sure I show people that I belong, just really use it as motivation just coming in.”

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