Julian Reese talks offseason development, upcoming Italy tour, NIL impact

Maryland basketball will lean on a trio of veteran pieces to guide them through the 2023-24 season as head coach Kevin Willard looks to build on last year’s 22-win season. One of those veterans is Julian Reese, the former four-star out of St. Francis who showed flashes in what proved to be a chaotic year one with the program. After settling under the new coaching staff in year two, Reese went on to become an All-Big Ten honorable mention after posting 11.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Reese’s presence in the post, coupled with Jahmir Young’s ability to score around the rim, propelled Maryland through conference play as the Terps showed signs of balance in the front and backcourt. Reese also showed signs of entering the conversation among the Big Ten’s best big men after dropping 29 points and 12 rebounds in a pair of matchups against Zach Edey and Purdue, along with posting his third double-double against former Indiana big Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Now it’s about tapping into those performances on a consistent basis as Reese prepares for year three.

“It’s just really the motor and the intensity, I feel like it’s all, it was all in the mind and all with the confidence,” Reese said on Hear the Turtle. “I feel like once I started playing with that swagger, then I was unstoppable and able to bang with those guys like the Edeys, the Hunter Dickinson, the Trayce Jacksons, and all that.”

Reese went on to post the third-best single-season field goal percentage (.632) in program history, but now he’s focused on extending his range on both ends of the court–and for longer stretches.

“Playing more in the perimeter, defending the perimeters is a big thing for me. Just staying out of foul trouble on guys much quicker or a little bit quicker than me or smaller than me, just being able to guard and stay in front of guys and another thing, like you said, just working on the perimeter, shooting and things like that, just being able to hang with those guys,” Reese said on Hear the Turtle. “My first two years, I haven’t really done anything on the outside or whatever, but I feel like I’m starting to get the defense, starting to get the offensive movements and things like that in this, just playing. I feel like I’m doing pretty good with that.”

With the trio of veterans benefitting from a year of on-court chemistry, Maryland will also lean on its trio of heralded freshmen guards with Deshawn Harris-Smith expected to take over Don Carey’s vacated role, while Jamie Kaiser will pinch in for the Terps on the wing. Maryland will look ahead to its upcoming Italy tour beginning July 31 as Willard and the coaching staff utilize the ten-day stretch to get comfortable, but Reese admits there’s already a sense of comfort with Willard’s culture in place.

I feel like it’s at the same spot we were last year. Like when we first came in with the new coaches that, just guys just learning the new mechanics, the new plays and everything, like who we’re playing with, like player personnel and just things like that, I feel like we’re all gelling together pretty well. At our first practice today, I feel like we did pretty good. We were conditioned. We were just good overall. I feel like this trip to Italy will prepare us pretty well for this season.”

After the Terps take in ten practices before departing for Rome, Florence, Venice and Lake Como, Reese is looking ahead to another obvious benefit.

“We’re definitely excited to play against other guys, other people, instead of just playing against each other. Kind of gets boring or whatever, but just excited to play like the new plays, travel with each other, bond with each other, and learn, learn what each other likes and things like that. I feel like it’s going to be overall a great thing for us.”

Off the court, Reese is among a handful of players who have benefitted in the NIL space with previously announced deals like Outback Steakhouse and Brady, but it was PlayStation which is his favorite deal thus far. With Turtle NIL and the University of Maryland continuing to find ways to maximize its fundraising efforts in the NIL era, Reese talks about its impact on his college career.

“I feel like it’s the one of the best things that happened to college basketball. I feel like we deserve it as players. We work hard and our name gets out there a lot and I just believe that’s, that’s just a great thing for us. And we deserve it really. Get your name out there and being able to support yourself and sometimes even your family.”

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