Preseason buzz continues for Maryland basketball freshman guard

The college basketball season is inching closer as Maryland fans await the sight of Jahmir Young, Julian Reese and Donta Scott back inside the Xfinity Center once again.

The new-look Terps also added plenty of firepower through both the high school and portal, and Maryland’s top high school signee continues to draw buzz as DeShawn Harris-Smith was named the 11th-best freshman in the country by The Athletic on Thursday morning.

At Big Ten media day, Kevin Willard called Harris-Smith “the most physically gifted player I’ve ever coached.” The 6-5, 215-pound freshman embraces contact with a college-ready body and has an incredible motor. He rebounds well from the guard spot and is a more than capable shooter. He is very good at attacking defenders downhill coming off ball screens. The Terrapins also have another potential star freshman in Jamie Kaiser Jr. Kaiser is an elite catch-and-shoot prospect with great size at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds. In August, Kaiser Jr. finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 105-40 victory over Bassano PRC All-Stars. Maryland brought back 60.8 percent of its scoring, including three starters in Donta Scott, Julian Reese and Jahmir Young. There is an opportunity for these two to play an impactful role in this potential top-20 club.

After finishing second in preseason Big Ten freshman of the year voting, the buzz continues around Harris-Smith as head coach Kevin Willard reiterated his confidence in the former Paul VI star.

“He’s the most competitive person I’ve been around,” Willard said on Tuesday. “And that’s a great skillset. He doesn’t want to lose. He brings it every day and that is a rarity in today’s kids, it really is a rarity. He’s got a competitive spirit and a work ethic and that’s why he’s the best freshman I’ve ever had because I know when he’s on the court, there’s a fire that rages in him that he does not want to lose. And like I said, it’s a rarity in today’s world that you have someone that young that has that fire and that compassion. He’s got it and I’ll roll with that all day long.”

While veteran forward Julian Reese described Harris-Smith as “just a dog on the court” at Big Ten media day, the former four-star product is now tasked with stepping into a feature role alongside Jahmir Young as they look to prove themselves among the top guard tandems in the country.

“Very physically gifted, very competitive guy. So, I feel like he’s going to help us a lot. He’s going to help us right away,” Young said on the BTN set. “He’s been around the block it seems. He’s very good off ball screens. He gets downhill very well. He’s also a great passer, underrated passer. So, I feel like he’s going to help us a lot.”

Maryland is set to open the season on Nov. 7 against Mount St. Mary’s.

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