Maryland freshman Diamond Stone will declare for the NBA Draft and sign with an agent, meaning his college career is over, his father confirmed to Inside Maryland Sports.
Stone, a 6-foot-11 center from Milwaukee, averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds — both ranking second on the team — this past season and his 56.8 shooting percentage led Maryland’s regulars. The top-ranked center recruit in the country when he signed with the Terps last spring, Stone is projected by most as a mid-to-late first-round pick in the June Draft, but could go higher if he impresses in pre-draft workouts. .
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Maryland’s most heralded recruit in decades, Stone played a reserve’s minutes off the bench early in the season before showing rapid progression on both ends, highlighted by a Maryland freshman record 39-point explosion to save Maryland from defeat in its Big Ten opener against Penn State. A month later, he moved into the starting lineup for good, scoring in double-figures in eight of Maryland’s final nine regular season games and later scoring 23 points in Maryland’s Big Ten Tournament opener against Nebraska.
While preseason Final four hopes didn’t materialize for Maryland, Stone’s individual performance was enough to convince he and his family that he’s ready to make the jump.
“It’s always been based on Diamond’s growth as a person. When he signed to go to Maryland, who knew [how much success the team would have]? He didn’t go there guaranteed to go to a Final Four or a Sweet 16,” Bob Stone told IMS recently. “It’s about Diamond. Every once in a while, you have to make a selfish choice. If he decides to go to the NBA, that’s going to be an individual walk, so I have to look at it as an individual decision.”
Stone suffered some freshman lapses on defense, prompting Mark Turgeon to limit his minutes at times, and he hit a bit of controversy in mid-February when he was suspended for one game — Maryland was then stunned by bottom-dwelling Minnesota in his absence — after slamming Wisconsin’s Vitto Brown to the floor during a Maryland loss. He was quiet in Maryland’s three tournament games, averaging 7.7 points on just 15 shots while the Terrapins’ other starters dominated the offense, but his combination of massive size, feather-soft hands and offensive polish make him a near-lock to be taken in the first round.
His departure, along with the exit of starting power forward Robert Carter, leaves a massive hole in Turgeon’s frontcourt moving forward. The Terps are expected to return big men Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, both of whom have shown potential but neither of whom has proven himself as a Big ten starter-quality post player. Maryland is expected to add at least one big man this spring.