After a 24-7 season and a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, the Maryland men’s basketball team will return to the court Nov. 25, but the Terps don’t have quite the same roster as last year given the losses of guard Anthony Cowan Jr. and center Jalen Smith.
Maryland radio analyst and Terps basketball legend Walt “The Wizard” Williams says that with the team losing Smith and Cowan, veterans such as Aaron Wiggins and Darryl Morsell need to step up for the Terps.
“I think ultimately it’s going to be a team effort,” Williams said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 19. “I think that you have some guys who are coming back that played major minutes all last season, and I think it’s going to be more of a team effort. I don’t think that they’re going to rely on individual guys to make up for the loss of Jalen and Cowan.”
Wiggins, a junior guard, made a major impact on the team’s success last season, ranking third on the team in scoring (10.4 points per game) and rebounding (4.9) and second on the team in 3-pointers made (53). As a freshman, Wiggins averaged 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds and made 62 3-pointers.
However, Wiggins only hit 31.7 percent of his 3-pointers as a sophomore, down from 41.3 percent as a freshman.
“I think that a guy that they will rely on is Wiggins,” Williams said. “In his freshman year, he showed that he can shoot the ball at a very high rate from the outside. But I think more importantly, in his sophomore year he showed the ability to affect games off the dribble, beating guys off the dribble, creating on his own, being someone that you can count on. I think that you’re going to see the team rely on that a little bit more in this upcoming season, especially down the stretch.”
Another key player that the Terps are relying on this season is Morsell, a senior guard out of Mount Saint Joseph. He averaged 8.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists last year, and he had similar numbers as a freshman and sophomore. He shot a career-best 33.3 percent from 3-point range as a junior.
“[Morsell’s] a guy that’s very tough mentally as well as physically, very aggressive getting to the basket, very athletic and he plays with a lot of heart. That’s going to have an effect out there on the game,” Williams said. “I think that he is going to step it up and become more of a focal point on the offensive end.”
“He’s shown in the past that he’s a guy you can rely on,” Williams added. “Not only his skill set, but the mindset that he brings to the game is infectious throughout the team, and I think it’s going to put them in a position where they’re going to be one of the better defensive teams in the league.”
Maryland’s 2020-21 roster also includes a handful of transfers, including junior forward Jairus Hamilton (Boston College) and senior center Galin Smith (Alabama). Last year at Boston College, Hamilton averaged 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds and scored in double figures 11 times. Last season at Alabama, Smith averaged 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds and ranked second on the team with 24 blocks.
Williams likes how both players fit in defensively.
“I think that the [transfers], they are very capable of keeping guys in front of them. All of those guys are versatile in the ways that they can defend the basketball,” Williams said. “I think that’s going to be huge for [the Terps].”
The Terps need these players to step up this season after the loss of Smith, taken 10th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2020 NBA Draft after two seasons with the Terps. In these two seasons, he averaged 13.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
What kind of impact will Smith make as a rookie with the Suns?
“His wingspan is going to cause problems when guys are going to the basket,” Williams said. “His lateral movement, he’s able to get into the paint and get back out to guys who can shoot the ball. Pick and roll action, being able to stay in front of guys, smaller guards. I think on the defensive end, he’s going to be somebody who can have an impact right away.”
For more from Williams, listen to the full interview here:
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