College basketball is back!
The University of Maryland men’s basketball team will open its 100th season at home against Delaware on Tuesday night. The Terps will look to rebound after the 2017-18 season where they failed to make the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland features key upperclassmen like point guard Anthony Cowan Jr., Darryl Morsell, Bruno Fernando and Ivan Bender. But, keep your eyes on Maryland’s freshmen class, which consist of Serrel Smith Jr., Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins and Jalen Smith.
Jalen Smith, who played for Mount Saint Joseph in Baltimore, has the potential to be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. He may have not gotten the preseason hype like Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Romeo Langford and Bol Bol. However, Smith possesses the skill sets that fits in today’s game.
Smith was one of the top high school players in the country, ranking No. 15 in the country by ESPN. Smith was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Maryland. He also was a two-time Baltimore Catholic High School Player and Defensive Player of the Year.
Smith was a double-double machine during his senior year of high school, averaging 23 points, 12.5 rebounds and three blocks per game.
Smith, who stands at 6-foot-10, was Maryland’s Head Coach Mark Turgeon’s first five-star recruit since Diamond Stone. Smith paired with Fernando can make up one of the best front courts in the Big Ten.
Both players have the skill level to be an offensive threat inside the paint and outside. Smith showed his ability to hit mid-range and three pointers in Maryland’s exhibition game against Lynn University.
Smith finished the game with 22 points (8-10 FG) and six rebounds, while shooting 2-3 from the three-point line. After losing Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson, Smith should give the Terps a much-needed scoring boost along with the players they already have.
Smith has already established a solid jump shot, but he will need to improve on his post-up skills if he wants to increase his draft stock.
The league has seen a growth of stretch forwards and versatile big men such as Karl Anthony-Towns, rookie DeAndre Ayton and Anthony Davis. Smith being a tall and lengthy forward, who can shoot the ball, will automatically grab scouts attention. It’s a reason why Smith is ranked in the top 25 of different mock drafts and draft boards.
Smith will enter his freshman season playing a crucial factor in whether Maryland improves from last year. Smith honing his post skills and establishing himself as a defensive presence will decide if this will be his only season in College Park.