Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
In Jimmy V Classic, Maryland’s Diamond Stone to Face UConn Team He Spurned in Recruiting
For the first time since he spurned UConn (and other schools) last spring, Maryland freshman big man Diamond Stone will meet Kevin Ollie and the Huskies Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.
No 10 Virginia (7-1) takes on No. 14 West Virginia (7-0) in the opener at 7 p.m. on ESPN, with No. 6 Maryland (7-1) and UConn (5-2) to follow at 9:30.
The 6-foot-11, 255-pound Stone was a McDonald’s All-American who led Milwaukee (WI) Dominican to four straight state championships.
He visited UConn and even flirted with a potential package deal with star point guard Malik Newman. Ultimately, Newman chose Mississippi State and Stone picked Maryland over UConn, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin in late May.
“We’re family. Diamond is a great individual and he’s going to do great things at Maryland and I just wish him the best of luck,” Ollie told UConn reporters ahead of Tuesday’s game.
Despite missing out on Stone, UConn did pretty well for itself in the Class of 2015. The Huskies landed big man Steven Enoch and point guard Jalen Adams for a recruiting class ranked No. 21 by Scout.com.
In 2016, UConn has the No. 6 recruiting class, according to Scout.com, while Maryland is not in the Top 25.
“He’s done an amazing job in recruiting … got some guys late, [has a] great early signing class,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of Ollie. “The future is bright.”
“You can’t cry over it,” Ollie said of Stone’s decision. “He made a decision that was best for him and best for his family and we go on and we try to find a person that wants to come to UConn and that’s what we want. We want guys that want to be a part of this family and this unique tradition and be around I think the greatest fans in the nation.”
Stone is averaging 9.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17 minutes a game for the Terps, but is averaging 12.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in his last four games on 20-for-32 shooting.
He is now coming off the bench with the second unit and had his best game of the season on Friday, going for 16 points and four rebounds in a 96-55 win over St. Francis (Pa.)
“The kid can score the ball,” Turgeon said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “The kid can catch anything. Diamond makes it look easy down there. Most important, I thought his defense was better. His ball screen was better, his awareness was better. I was proud of him. It was a step in the right direction.”
Still, his draft stock has fallen and Stone tumbled to No. 17 in the latest 2016 DraftExpress.com mock draft from No. 8.
For now, the focus is on Tuesday night and the matchup between the Terps and the Huskies where Stone hopes to play a central role.
“A game like this is like an NCAA tournament game,” Turgeon said, “great crowd, two great teams and a great venue.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.