Busting Brackets

Maryland Basketball: 2021-22 season preview and outlook for Terrapins

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 28: The Maryland Terrapins huddle up during the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Xfinity Center on February 28, 2021 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 28: The Maryland Terrapins huddle up during the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Xfinity Center on February 28, 2021 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) /
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Eric Ayala Maryland Basketball (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
Eric Ayala Maryland Basketball (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) /

Projected starting lineup

PG – Fatts Russell

One of the areas of the program that had to be addressed this past off-season was finding a true PG and one that fit what Maryland is trying to do.  So, the Terp’s hit the transfer portal and signed one of the best PG’s in 6-5 Graduate Transfer Guard Fatts Russell. Russell comes to College Park as a graduate transfer from Rhode Island where he averaged 14.7 ppg and 4.5 rpg.

Last year he led the Rams in scoring, assists, and steals, as well as being the all-time steal leader with 213. He also ranks in the all-time Top 10 in career assists, 3-pointers made, free throws made, and 13th in career points.  In 2019 – 2020 he was A-10 first-team all-conference and first all-defensive team.

Russell liked what Maryland was putting together and building in College Park, as he chose the Terps over Texas and  Auburn among others. In the 2021 – 2022 Blue Ribbon Collège Basketball Yearbook Coach Mark Turgeon was quoted as saying “He brings leadership and has great knowledge of the game. This summer he did a great job of facilitating, he really took on the role”.

*Blue Ribbon also provides the rest of the quotes throughout the article

Russell is also familiar with a couple current Terp’s as he was teammates with Donta Scott in high school playing for Philadelphia’s Imhop Charter and played against Eric Ayala and Hakim Hart in AAU ball. He has been compared to former Maryland great Anthony Cowan.

SG – Eric Ayala

With Russell now taking over the PG duties for the Terp’s, 6-5 senior guard Eric Ayala can now continue to play shooting guard position. Ayala tested the NBA draft waters but decided to come back for his senior season in College Park. Ayala has been a staple on the Terp’s since his freshman year as he has started 81 games in 94 career games.

Last year Ayala averaged 15.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.2 apg and ranked third in free-throw shooting at .831%, which included a 13 for 13 night against Michigan State. Ayala was the first Terp to go perfect from the line since 1986 when Maryland’s all-time great Len Bias accomplished the feat. He was also named honorable mention all-conference.

Throughout his career, Ayala has played alot of point guard, which was out of necessity, but last year was moved to the shooting guard position and his game then took off, as he showed power and strength around the basket last year.

"“His body looks great. I think Eric is more of a natural scorer then he is a point guard and we will be able to do that with him this year”."

Now that Ayala is has established himself as a scoring threat not only from the outside but around the basket and with Russell playing the point and breaking down defenses and distributing the ball, Ayala should be in store for a monster season.

SF – Hakim Hart

The 6-6 Junior Guard has made great strides in his first two years with the Terps and by all accounts has earned a starting spot on this year’s team. Hart last year averaged 7.1 ppg and 3.5 rpg, as he was moved to point guard late in the season. This was a move made by Turgeon in order to get his best players on the court together. The move was also partly made because of Hicks court vision and passing ability.  The move also has its downside as Hart had trouble with quicker defenders and at times getting Maryland into the offense.

With Russell now at the point, Hart will now move to wings, where he can utilize his passing abilities more effectively. Hart started 19 games last year in what proved to be a breakout season of sorts.

"“We’d like to get Hakim off the ball because we think he can do more then he was doing last year. We think he can score more and I know this sounds crazy, facilitate more. I think he relaxed when he got rid of the ball  and he will be more a part of things off the ball for us”."

PF – Donta Scott

There is no question that Scott is looking forward to this upcoming season as the 6-7 Junior forward will be moving back to his natural position of power forward. With the arrival of true center, Scott will not be asked to be to do quite as much as was asked of him last year. Scott averaged 11.0 ppg,  and 5.9 rpg last year and is looking to be a different type of scorer this season. In his sophomore campaign in College Park, Scott was the third-leading scorer, top rebounder, and was the top shooter from the field and from three-point land.

Since his freshmen season, he has started 48 games and playing in a total of 62 games. Scott has brought a toughness and attitude to his game, which makes him one of the better defenders inside and out. He has gained some muscle in order to bang with the other big boys in the Big 10 this year and becoming more of a scoring threat down low.

Another reason Scott is looking forward to his junior season is that he has his former high school teammate Fatts Russell playing alongside him and this could be something special to watch as their chemistry should hopefully be on full display.

C – Qudus Wahab

For Terp fans like myself, I am extremely excited to see what the 6-11 Junior transfer from Georgetown is going to bring to the table. A true center is what the Terps have been missing, so they turned to the transfer portal and according to CBSSports.com, Wahab was ranked the third-best overall transfer out of 1,700 transfers.

In 58 games at Georgetown, Wahab started 32 games and averaged 8.7 points per game and 6.1 rpg and had his coming out party during the end of the year, as he scored in double figures in the last 12 of the final 14 games, as well as a strong showing during the Big East tournament as he averaged 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds.

Wahab is just what the doctor ordered as he instantly gives the Terp’s a big guy down low and can compete with any of the centers in the Big 10. His presence down low will certainly open up things for the Terp’s offense, as well as having a rim protector.

"“Q is just a good player, he can really score the ball on the block. He is naturally able to turn and score it”."

His old coach at Georgetown Patrick Ewing predicted that Wahab would be the best big in the country by the time he leaves college. I can not wait to see how much better Wahab is going to be with Coach Danny Manning teaching him how to be a true center.