Maryland basketball squeezes into way-too-early top 25 polls for 2023-24 season

With UConn crowned as the national champions to officially end the 2022-23 college basketball season, Maryland basketball has found itself inside the first round of way-too-early top 25 projections across a number of outlets.

Several outlets have Maryland spanned across the 20-25 range as head coach Kevin Willard prepares to restock the roster ahead of year two.

Both Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, have Maryland checking in at 21st in their rankings with the Washington Post most bullish listing the Terps at 20th.

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“The Terps have Jahmir Young and Julian Reese back, and Kevin Willard brings in a strong freshman class led by DeShawn Harris-Smith and shooter Jamie Kaiser. Maryland was a tourney team in Willard’s first year, and I’d be surprised if they don’t improve in year two.”

Fox Sports

“Jahmir Young and Julian Reese are projected to be back for a program that carries momentum off Year 1 of the Kevin Willard era. Add in the hiring of Mike Jones, former DeMatha coach and Virginia Tech assistant, and the Terps have the recruiting pan sizzling already. Momentum is in place in College Park.”

Sports Illustrated

“There are a lot of moving parts here still, but the Terrapins getting back star point guard Jahmir Young and starting center Julian Reese is a heck of a way to start. Young is among the best guards in the Big Ten, while Reese profiles as a potential double-double threat in 2023–24. I’m also bullish on Kevin Willard’s first full recruiting class at Maryland, featuring high-scoring guard DeShawn Harris-Smith and glue guy Jamie Kaiser.”

Washington Post

“The Terrapins have a pair of top-60 recruits on the way, but Kevin Willard’s biggest get was convincing guard Jahmir Young to stick around and use his fifth year of eligibility. Young’s presence helped Maryland earn a No. 8 seed in Willard’s first season, and the return of Julian Reese in the post solves plenty of problems as well. Willard established an interesting identity that clashed with the mostly stodgy, plodding Big Ten, and that bodes well as the Terps’ talent level increases.”

A big reason for the early optimism surrounding Maryland is the return of Jahmir Young, who became the second senior to announce his plans last week. Maryland returns Julian Reese and Ian Martinez while Donta Scott has emerged as a late possibility to return with a final decision expected this week. Willard also welcomes his first full recruiting class onto campus with Deshawn Harris-Smith, Jamie Kaiser, Jahn Lamothe and Braden Pierce all expected to enroll in June. A return from Scott would likely push Maryland into the top 20 with plenty left to settle through the beginning of a hectic offseason, but a return would also leave Willard without a vacant scholarship as he awaits roster attrition.

Maryland will also have one, and possibly two, new faces along its coaching staff next season after news broke publicly on Monday that longtime DeMatha head coach and current Virginia Tech assistant Mike Jones is expected to be named Tony Skinn’s replacement. Assistant Grant Billmeier, who has carved himself a niche as an accomplished big man coach whose been instrumental in Julian Reese’s development, has also been the center of discussion surrounding NJIT’s head coaching vacancy in recent days as Willard looks to maintain stability along his bench.

Maryland will complete the second game of its home-and-home against UCLA next season while Willard has hinted at a return to the Barclays Center after the Terps fell to Tennessee back in December.

Following the 2022-23 season, Kevin Willard became the first coach in program history to guide the Terps to 20-plus wins, a national ranking, and a trip to the NCAA Tournament during the first year of a coach’s tenure at Maryland.

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