Maryland basketball set to honor five seniors vs. Northwestern

Maryland enters Sunday with a program-record 12 consecutive Big Ten wins inside the Xfinity Center and a chance to finish 16-1 overall at home for the third time in eight seasons. The Terps will do so with a chance to pick up their fourth quad one win when the 21st-ranked Northwestern Wildcats step into College Park. Before the noon tipoff, Maryland will pay tribute to their five-man senior class who played key roles in Kevin Willard surpassing expectations in year one. Emilien, however, is the lone player who does not have an additional year of eligibility as Willard and the staff spend the ensuing weeks working on 2023-24 roster. While the question remains whether any from the group return next season, Sunday afternoon will mark their last time inside Xfinity as we recap their careers in College Park.

Don Carey

After signing with Mount St. Mary’s as a Douglass (MD) graduate, Carey hit the transfer portal and landed at Siena for the 2019-20 season where he averaged 11.3 points per game on 40.9% shooting. But like his time at Mount St. Mary’s, Carey hit the portal and found a home at Georgetown for the next two seasons where he’d start in 48 of the 54 games. Carey hit the portal once more after announcing his transfer from Georgetown last April only to land at Maryland in May to give head coach Kevin Willard an experienced starter alongside Jahmir Young.

Carey arrived in College Park midway through the summer with a reputation as the Terps’ three-point shooter but has struggled to give the Terps that threat this season. The veteran has had ten games this season with at least one attempts and no makes from three while shooting a career-low 30.2% from deep. Carey’s found himself in and out of the rotation at crucial times through conference play, coming off the bench a pair of times while sitting through the second half with Ian Martinez filling in. The veteran was able to get back on track in the latest win over Minnesota after finishing with ten points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep, in 22 minutes. “I feel like it had to do a lot with Don,” Donta Scott said following the win. “When it came down to it, Don stepped up to the plate and made shots, tough ones and wide open. We followed behind that.”

Patrick Emilien

There’s been no bigger X-factor for Maryland than Emilien if the Terps were to surpass expectations and with three games left in the regular season, the former St. Francis (NY) forward has been everything and then some. Emilien became the priority target last offseason after the staff missed out of Efe Abogidi after he opted for the G League. After announcing his commitment in June, Emilien was tasked with providing reassurance in the frontcourt and aid Maryland’s rebounding efforts to combat the lack of size on the roster.

You wouldn’t be able to notice if you look at the stats alone, recording a season-high seven rebounds and ten points twice, but his presence has given the Terps a lift off the bench. More importantly, he’s given Willard quality minutes in the frontcourt when Julian Reese has battled foul trouble through the closing minutes of the first half into the second. Emilien’s impact hasn’t gone unnoticed by Willard this season either. “He just gives us a different dynamic in the fact that we can switch pick-and-rolls, he can slide over to the power forward, he can slide over to the center. You know, he was a big key of why we got off to such a really good start.”

Hakim Hart

A former three-star prospect in the 2019 class, it’s been Hakim Hart whose been the glue guy on the current roster. After finishing as the team’s second-leading scorer last season, Hart opted to stay in College Park through the coaching change and became an integral part of Kevin Willard’s success in year one. Heading into Sunday, Hart is averaging 12.1 points per game on 50.2% shooting from the floor and 34.4% from deep, both of which are career highs. Over the last four games, Hart has turned it up another notch shooting 24-of-42, including 10-of-17 from deep. It’s taken time for Willard to get accustomed to how to maximize the veteran’s potential within the new system, but through conference play, Hart has been Maryland’s second-best player behind none other than Jahmir Young. “It’s taken a lot of pressure of Jahmir. [Hart’s] gotten very comfortable in the offense and very comfortable with what we’re asking him to do,” Willard said. “That’s really helped him.”

Maryland returns Noah Batchelor and brings in Jamie Kaiser Jr. next season, but Hart could be a key veteran who fills a need as a proven wing scorer on a team stockpiling freshmen talent.

Donta Scott 

A former three-star prospect out of the 2019 class, Scott is another who stuck with the program through the coaching change and become an integral part in Maryland’s success. Much had been made of the offseason body transformation from Scott as he made conditioning a focus heading into the season. The senior opened the year with double figures in six of the first eight games but went through a midseason slump where Scott struggled with his touch from the field. That changed when Scott finished with ten points on 50% shooting in the home win over Michigan, sparking four consecutive games in double figures and nine in his last eleven games. Scott has also been an integral part in Maryland’s answer on the boards after leading the team ten times this season, including six in conference play. Scott enters Sunday 22nd on the all-time rebound list (665) and 32nd on the all-time scoring list (1,255).

Jahmir Young

When fans look back at Kevin Willard’s first season at Maryland, there’s a real chance that it’s Jahmir Young whose fans remember first. Young announced his intention back in April to join Maryland should he not remain in the 2022 NBA Draft and after the staff sweated out a final decision, Young announced his decision to remain in college for another season roughly one month later. Not only did the addition of Young give Kevin Willard the experienced, playmaking point guard to lead his team, but it gave Maryland its first commitment out of the WCAC powerhouse since Travis Garrison back in 2002. Young entered his season with the Terps with questions surrounding just how efficient he can be making the jump from Charlotte to Maryland, but the Upper Marlboro native has answered those questions and then some.

After finishing with 11 points in the win over Minnesota, Young enters Sunday with 14 consecutive games with ten or more points and a team-high 16.1 points per game. With eight 20-point games including a 30-point performance in the win vs. Ohio State, Young has answered that and then some whether it’s with his clutch outside shooting or carving his way through the lane to the rim. Willard has turned to the supporting cast to alleviate the pressure off Young down the stretch, but there’s no doubt that the Terps go as far as Young takes them this season.

“He’s a tremendous young man and hard worker,” Willard said. “But what he has been more than anything is a great foundation for this program.”

Maryland is expected to return Jahari Long and adds Deshawn Harris-Smith next season, while Jahnathan Lamothe is also a capable ball-handler, but Young’s potential return would arguably give Maryland one of the top backcourts in the country. While NIL could incentivize a return for one more season, there’s been no shortage of NBA scouts in College Park with the Brooklyn Nets expected on Sunday.

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