In the days leading up to Saturday’s Midnight Madness festivities, CSN will take a look at each projected member of Maryland’s starting five with an individual preview for each player. We will pose three questions of the five starters, with CSN’s answer for each listed just below it.
Here is the 3-of-5 Preview.
Name: Jake Layman
Position: Small forward
2014-15 Stats: 12.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG
Question 1: How will things change as he shifts back to his natural position?
Layman played a good deal of power forward last season as injuries made it almost a necessity. With Robert Carter becoming eligible, Layman shifts primarily back to his natural position at small forward.
One would think he learned things while having to change positions. He became more of a threat in the post, which helped to diversify his offensive game. He has said himself that he was made tougher by having to go against Carter every day in practice. His shooting percentage also increased dramatically.
That should carry over as he shifts back, giving him the option to use his athleticism against bigger defenders or take smaller defenders down into the post.
Question 2: Is he willing to regularly get into the driver’s seat?
Over his first three seasons in College Park, the biggest critique of Layman has been that in big games he fades into the background. Was that a factor of players like Dez Wells taking the lead and Layman deferring?
With Wells having graduated, does Layman fill that role as a senior? Or do players like Carter and Stone and Sulaimon gladly pick up the slack and we see a similar pattern from the Massachusetts native?
Maryland is better the more weapons they have. And Layman is a weapon that they would love to turn to whenever possible. He just has to know that Maryland is fine with him missing a few shots because by this point in his career he has proven that he can hit his groove eventually.
Question 3: Will a senior season improve his draft stock?
Layman was projected to be a fringe first-round pick in the 2015 draft because of his combination of size, athleticism, and shooting ability fits perfectly into the NBA’s new-found love for small ball.
Now that he returns, which direction does his stock head? If he appears to level off, perhaps the perception of him by scouts does as well. But players have stayed four years and not hurt their stock in the past.
What would he have to do to improve it? Showing more assertiveness is likely atop that list, plus more improvement on the defensive end. If he does those things, he should cement a spot on that first or second-round fringe.