Kevin Willard, Donta Scott, Jahmir Young Delve Into Maryland Basketball’s Offseason Progress

Maryland basketball is now less than one month away from the first game under first-year head coach Kevin Willard. With new faces like Jahmir Young, Don Carey, Noah Batchelor and Jahari Long set to make their debut, the Terps will have a pair of closed scrimmages ahead of its first game starting with October 22 against Virginia then October 29 against Villanova.

Maryland also returns several key pieces from last season, including Hakim Hart, Donta Scott and Julian Reese. Willard has been transparent through the offseason that the portal additions needed to complement the existing pieces as he looks to get the program back on track and that message was reiterated on the Big Ten set. Willard was also pleased that practices have been productive thus far—except for one. “I think what’s so bad about it was the lack of energy and guys really didn’t feel like they came to like really give it their all today,” forward Donta Scott added. Other than that, Willard has been pleased with the offseason progress. “They’ve really bought in,” Willard added on the BTN set. “They’ve been great. And I think the biggest thing is, I feel like I have a really good seven, eight guys now, but it’s just trying to find those next guys, but I liked the roster and I love their attitude.”

Point guard Jahmir Young is one of the new faces on Maryland’s roster and will undoubtedly be the biggest transfer addition this season. After averaging 19.6 points and 5.9 rebounds on nearly 47% shooting last season, Young was named one of the twenty under-the-radar transfers last week and joins the Terps with an opportunity to take over the new identity of the offense. For Young, the sense of homecoming helped make the transition to College Park possible.

“The connection I have with coach [Willard] and his staff. I love the team. I’m also very close to my family so being able to play in front of my family is very special to me,” Young added. Young’s addition not only gave Maryland a chance to elevate its chances for postseason play in Willard’s first season, but the early commitment from a former DeMatha product gave credence to Willard’s emphasis on local recruiting.

“I think it’s huge and I think him being one of our first recruits was really huge,” Willard added. “I think he sent a message to all the local kids that, you know, playing at home, it’s an unbelievable experience to play so close to your family, but playing for the state of Maryland, playing for such great tradition, unbelievable coaches. I think that’s something that he kind of kicked off and kind of got everybody thinking, you know, it’s cool to come back.”

The transfer to Maryland also gave him a chance to pair up with forward Donta Scott for a high-low combo that Maryland fans hope will rejuvenate the offense. Scott was one key player that Maryland had to work to keep in the fold after the coaching transition, but he revealed why he opted to stay in College Park.

“I’ve always been a Terp and I wanted it to stay that and just knowing that just because one coast It doesn’t mean that the family based atmosphere left. So that’s why, a big part of the reason I came to Maryland because the family based atmosphere and I felt like it was still there. So I decided to stay and just have trust in the new coach that was coming in.”

Maryland was projected to finish tenth in the media’s preseason Big Ten standings but Willard is optimistic that his team can become an efficient shooting team.

“The thing I think this team’s going to do at a very high level is shoot the basketball,” he added. “One through five is going to be able to shoot the basketball at some point on the court. We’re going to play, I think we have the ability to play a little bit more up tempo than I have in the past. I love the fact that this is everyone we brought in, everyone that stayed is   a very unselfish player. This is probably the most unselfish team I’ve had in the fact that although they’re all new and they’re all very good scorers, they’re not really focused on who’s scoring. They’re more focused on, are we scoring? So we are going to be able to shoot the basketball and an extremely high level. And I think our defense will be a little bit of a work in progress early in the season, but I think this is going to be a fun team because man, these guys love to pass the ball and they can shoot it.”

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