Maryland men’s basketball makes pair of preseason top 25 rankings

Head coach Kevin Willard took the podium at Big Ten media day in Minneapolis this week with Maryland men’s basketball just weeks away from kicking off the 2023-24 season. With a veteran group headlining a rotation that features a pair of former four-star freshmen, the Terps were picked to finish third in the annual preseason Big Ten media poll.

Now, Maryland has cracked the top 25 according to a pair of analysts, checking in at 19th in FOX’s preseason top 25 rankings.

“In his first season at Maryland, head coach Kevin Willard said he felt like the Terrapins had to fight and claw to hang with the level of competition in the Big Ten. His team won 22 games and finished in the top six of a deep, hard-nosed league. The second-year head coach said that this year’s team feels like it belongs more in the conference. Jahmir Young is an elite point guard. Julian Reese has an unlimited motor. Donta Scott might be the most underrated player in the conference. The freshmen class is loaded with upside. The vibes are strong in College Park.”

Maryland also checked in at 25th in Jon Rothstein’s preseason rankings on Thursday.

“Kevin Willard enters his second season as Maryland’s head coach with high expectations and for good reason. Jahmir Young, Donta Scott and Julian Reese give Kevin Willard a veteran nucleus but two freshmen should rise to the occasion in College Park. DeShawn Harris-Smith could very well be the best freshman in the Big Ten and Jamie Kaiser [Jr.] also could find himself as a starter in College Park. Don’t be surprised if Maryland challenges for a spot in the top of the Big Ten standings alongside Michigan State and Purdue,” Rothstein said.

While Willard will lean on his first full recruiting class to restock the roster for year two, the need to add length was a priority for the staff this offseason. Maryland signed former New Mexico State forward Mady Traore to add depth at the five, but former Indiana forward Jordan Geronimo received glowing praise as an impact piece in the frontcourt rotation after Willard noted the athleticism he adds to the roster.

“The thing we talked about as a staff that was really important after we lost [to] Alabama in the NCAA tournament was we really needed to change our athleticism. I had a great team last year, they were so fun to coach, but there [were] some limits on what we could do physically and athletically,” Willard said Tuesday.

“And when Jordan went into the portal, I had known Jordan just from being at Seton Hall and him being from Newark. I know his mom and it was just one of those things, he was one of those guys that just was going to be a game changer for us. And Jordan so far is, I mean, our practices, we haven’t practiced longer than an hour and 26 minutes because our practices are so athletic and so physical…I have a lineup with Donta Scott, Jordan Geronimo, Julian [Reese], and Mady Traore. I mean we are big and physical and Jordan’s changed the way we play. He’s that good of a player. He’s shooting the basketball great. He’s skilled. More than anything, he’s just changed our roster just by adding him.”

Maryland is set to host media day on-campus next Tuesday with the season opener vs. Mount St. Mary’s set for Nov. 7.

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