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Maryland’s basketball program loses two key players

Dion WileyCOLLEGE PARK – After a disappointing end to their 2017-18 season, the Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball squad will have to rebuild for next year without two key contributing players.

Head Coach Mark Turgeon announced on March 28 that sophomore forward Justin Jackson and redshirt junior guard Dion Wiley will not be coming back to College Park for the 2018-19 season. Jackson will forfeit his final two years of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft in June. Wiley will leave after graduating in May to pursue opportunities as a transfer graduate.

The departures come after a down year for the Terrapins. A 19-13 record and a first-round exit in the Big Ten Conference Tournament caused the program to miss out their first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. Maryland was also not invited to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), finishing their season losing back-to-back games.

In Jackson’s breakout freshman season, he finished second in the conference in three-point shooting percentage (.438) which lead to speculation that he would leave to go pro during the 2016-2017 campaign. However, he returned to Maryland only to play 11 games, suffering a season-ending torn labrum injury. JustinJackson3 1

“He was making great strides over the summer and early in the fall, but unfortunately sustained a season-ending injury,” Turgeon said. “Justin has progressed well after surgery, and in our discussions with him and his family, he has expressed his desire to pursue a professional basketball career.”

Despite the shortened year, Jackson averaged a team-best 8.1 rebounds. He will hire an agent before combine workouts, canceling out his amateur status, according to the press release.

“This certainly was not an easy decision for me, as I felt like we had some unfinished business because of my injury,” Jackson said. “After talking with my family and weighing my options, it’s my desire to turn my full attention to preparing for a career in professional basketball.”

Wiley, a former four-star recruit from Potomac High School, appeared in all 35 games as a freshman during the 2014-15 season. Injuries limited the six-foot-four guard, including missing his entire sophomore season with a torn right meniscus.

In his final year, the Oxon Hill native played in 28 games, averaging a career-best 5.8 points per game. Wiley finishes his college career appearing on three Maryland teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. He will graduate with a degree in American Studies, Turgeon said.

“Playing at Maryland was a dream come true for me,” Wiley said. “I owe a great deal to Coach Turgeon, the assistant coaches, our training staff and the academic support unit for helping me during my time in College Park. I’m proud of graduating with a degree in May, and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

April 10 is the final day that players can declare for the NBA Draft and the statuses of sophomore guard Kevin Huerter and freshman center Bruno Fernando are still unknown. The duo averaged the second and third most points per game for the Terps. Combined with seniors graduating, Maryland may be in full rebuild mode next year unless the new recruiting class adjusts quickly.

Size will not be an issue to replace after Mississippi State forward/center Schnider Herard announced on Twitter his decision to transfer to Maryland on Jan. 20. The six-foot-10, 260-pound sophomore only played 11 games this season after playing 19 during his freshman year.

He will be joined by Baltimore-native and Mount Saint Joseph’s High School star Jalen Smith, who competed in the 2018 McDonald’s All-American game on March 28. The power forward, who committed to join the Terps on Jan. 26, scored 12 points, collected four rebounds and made two blocks in 17 minutes in the showcase exhibition.

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