Sports At Large: Does Diamond Stone Add Too Much Bling To UMD's Roster?
By this time next week, the 2014-15 college basketball season will be but a memory. And with the Maryland men’s advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010, that memory is a pleasant one. But, over the weekend, the Terps and coach Mark Turgeon got news that could make next season tip way past pleasant all the way to delirious.
Diamond Stone, a 6-foot-10 high school senior from Milwaukee, announced via his Twitter account, All Eyes On Me, that all eyes in College Park and beyond will be on him when he attends Maryland next fall.
Stone, who plays center, is ranked in the top 10 among boys high school basketball players at all positions in the nation and was named to the prestigious McDonald’s All-America team, which is rarified air for Maryland.
The Terps beat out a number of schools, including new Big Ten conference rival, Wisconsin, themselves a two time national semifinalist, for Stone’s services.
Though the Terps will lose eight seniors from this year’s team, the presence of Stone along with the returnees may be enough to propel Maryland back to the Final Four for the first time since 2002, when they won it all.
Stone is expected to join junior Jake Layman and Robert Carter, a transfer from Georgia Tech, to form an impressive front line. Add them to freshman guard Melo Trimble, and the Terps could be primed for a magical season.
That assumes that Trimble, one of the great young talents in college basketball, comes back.
College freshmen can’t join the NBA until their high school class has been out for one year or until they turn 19.
Trimble has until April 26 to decide if he wants to remain in College Park or try his hand professionally.
Trimble and Stone could form a remarkable blend of inside force and outside skill, maybe the best in all of college basketball.
But, at what cost?
One of the supposed benefits of Maryland’s leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten was that the school would now be aligned with like-minded institutions of higher learning, universities where hanging banners of athletic success took a back seat to academic achievement.
The likelihood is that barring something unforeseen, both Trimble and Stone would leave Maryland after next season, essentially making the school not much better than Kentucky, a university that has trafficked in so called “one and done” players.
These players come to a campus with impressive basketball resumes, but largely reduce a school’s academic character to that of sports factory.
Indeed, reports indicate that Stone chose Maryland not because of its sterling track record of scholarship, but because, like his Amateur Athletic Union team, the Terps wear Under Armour sneakers.
Of course, there is the argument that schools of the considered reputation of Duke can successfully manage to balance have mercenaries on the basketball roster and laureate scholars in the classroom.
Maryland basketball fans have wanted to be like Duke for years. With Diamond Stone, they're more like Kentucky.