Maryland basketball player preview: Jahmir Young

The first season Jahmir Young spent playing for his hometown school was widely remarked as a successful one. The senior averaged 15.8 points and just under five rebounds per game for Maryland, as the Terps defied expectations and finished sixth in the Big Ten en route to an NCAA Tournament berth.

The veteran point guard led the Terps into the spring with the expectation that the pro route was the more likely destination, but a pivotal March turned the tide as Young announced his return on March 28.

Young’s return helped Maryland basketball’s preseason expectations skyrocket with several analysts including them in their top-25 rankings.

For Young, this second season is a chance to further build his case as not only one of the best guards in the conference, but in the country.

The beginning of his Maryland journey started off very hot, as the Terps jumped out to an 8-0 record, which included two very impressive wins over Saint Louis and Miami at the Mohegan Sun early season tournament.

Young scored 11 and 13 points in those games, despite only shooting eight times against Miami. His role was more of a decoy for forward Donta Scott, who shined in both games and helped Maryland capture the tournament championship.

The contributions of Young were there but overshadowed by the success of his teammates and team in general. It wasn’t until December 2 where Young made his presence felt in a high-leverage situation.

In a battle between two ranked Big Ten foes, Maryland led Illinois by one point and had the ball with a chance to put the game out of reach. With under 20 seconds left, Young buried a 3-pointer to give the Terps a four-point lead and essentially seal the deal.

That shot gave him 24 points on the night and was only the beginning of what was to come for him and the Terps.

The Illinois victory was the first of a four-game gauntlet where Maryland had to travel to Wisconsin, face Tennessee at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and then return home to host UCLA.

The Terps lost the first two of those matchups by a close margin, but were less-fortunate when facing UCLA, who dismantled Maryland by a score of 87-60. These losses were the first major tests of Young’s Big Ten career, which were amplified by his 0-for-8 shooting and five turnovers against the Bruins.

As conference play continued, Young and the Terps sputtered in two road losses to Michigan and Rutgers.

The poor shooting performances from Young aligned with the overall scoring issues for Maryland, as Young went 2-of-9 and 5-of-12 in those games and the Terps shot a combined 33% from the field.

While things looked bleak offensively for Young and Maryland, the following game against Ohio State made it clear that he was more than capable of having success in the Big Ten.

Looking to avoid its fourth-straight conference loss, Maryland welcomed Ohio State into College Park on January 8 badly needing a win.

Their wish was granted, as Young scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to carry the Terps to an 80-73 victory. Nearly half of his points came from the free-throw line, where he went 13-of-15.

His ability to draw contact and earn himself free throws is what has separated him from other point guards. Although he is a capable 3-point shooter, where Young does his damage is inside the paint and in the mid-range area.

His 30-point showing was the first of a seven-game stretch that saw him reach at least 20 points five times. He went 8-for-34 from 3-point range in those games, which further showcased the importance of him getting to the free-throw line and capitalizing on easy opportunities.

Young continued his steady play into February as the Terps began to gain ground in the conference standings. During a 4-1 stretch to end the month, Young seemingly took over as the anchor of the team as the team’s number-one option.

In Maryland’s dominant upset of No. 3 Purdue on February 16, Young’s 20 points led the Terps to their first top-five win since 2016. Again, it was his craftiness and ability to shot-create without having to rely on the 3-point shot.

His quickness lets him to blow past defenders and into the paint, and his strength allows him to finish through contact over taller interior bigs. “Where the program was last year and where it is now, I think a ton of that has to do with how good Jahmir Young has been,” Willard said about his star guard last season.

Tournament play is where his performance provided Maryland fans with a bit of concern, as Young went a combined 6-for-28 from the field in two Big Ten Tournament games. Although it was his first taste of postseason play in the Big Ten, his struggles coincided with the team’s struggles overall, as the Terps lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 1 overall-seeded Alabama.

Young’s season-long performance earned him All-Big Ten second-team honors, becoming the first Maryland player to be named to an All-Big Ten conference team since the 2019-20 season, where Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith received the honors.

For Young to duplicate or improve on his 2022-23 season in his final year in College Park, here are some benchmarks that he can use to further aid his performance:

1. Three-point shooting

It is no secret that Jahmir Young is a capable 3-point shooter.

He shot 31% from beyond the arc in 2022-23 and will need to become more consistent if his game will take the next step. It is clear that his offensive strength is getting to the basket with his quickness, but without the potential of knocking down three-pointers, defenses could begin to limit his paint production and playmaking ability.

Maryland is a heavy pick-and-roll team, which gives Young chances to create space and lanes for others when the on-ball defender goes over the screen. If there is no threat of the shot, the defenders can start going under the screen to limit the ability of the roller to find room and force Young to shoot or pass elsewhere.

Ian Martinez, Maryland’s best three-pointer shooter last season, abruptly left the program in May and with Chance Stephens sidelined to eliminate one three-point shooter in the rotation, Young’s shooting will be important for him to take his game to the next level as the Terps look to make at least the second weekend in the NCAA Tournament.

2. Turnovers

A point guard’s job is to create plays for their teammates and control the pace of play. For Young, the ball routinely stays in his hands as he orchestrates the offense.

In the 2023-24 season, he will need to be more careful with the ball if he and Maryland want to be successful.

His 2.3 turnovers per game led the Terps in that category, which is mostly due to the high volume of his touches. Despite this, he will need to limit this number, especially in clutch situations.

In Maryland’s narrow 67-65 victory over West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Young had a season-high six turnovers.

Veteran Jahari Long returns to stabilize the depth, but Young’s decision-making will be crucial to the Terps’ success in 2023-24.

3. Ability to play off the ball

With the addition of top-100 guard DeShawn Harris-Smith, Maryland will have two playmakers who will handle the bulk of the point guard duties.

In 2022-23, Young primarily brought the ball up the floor as the Terps settled into their offense, but the ability of Harris-Smith will provide balance to the backcourt and a chance to deflect some of the scoring responsibility. The high-powered slashing guard gives Maryland a young piece that alleviates the attention from Young, giving the veteran point guard a chance to showcase his scoring further.

Before transferring to Maryland, Young was a combo guard at Charlotte who specialized in scoring. In his first season in College Park, he transformed into an all-around playmaking point guard who routinely set up his teammates with open looks. Young shined off the pick-and-roll as Maryland’s star, using both hands to remain efficient around the rim, while the veteran was a blur on the open court to lead Maryland’s transition offense.

He will need to balance both aspects of his offensive repertoire in order for him and Maryland to have success in 2023-24.

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