Maryland’s three centerpiece players with eligibility still remaining -- Melo Trimble, Robert Carter, Jr., and Diamond Stone -- have all yet to make their intentions known in regards to the 2016 NBA Draft.
But because of a rule change now taking effect, there is a case to be made that there is little to no downside for each of those players to at the very least declare, test the NBA waters, and return to school if they so desire.
Let’s examine the rule.
Previously, players who declared for the NBA Draft and were included on the league’s list of early entrants would forfeit their remaining eligibility.
As it stands now, players who declare for the draft can withdraw their names, maintain their eligibility, and return to school so long as they do it before May 25 and do not hire an agent during the draft process.
That gives players the flexibility to get feedback from teams, have one workout with an NBA team, and prove what they can do at the NBA Combine (May 11-15) -- if invited -- before making a final decision.
What would that mean for each of the Terrapins?
For Trimble, who saw his draft stock slide as he endured a shooting slump down the final stretch of the season, he would be able to get feedback about the impact of some things that we know for certain about his game, including his under-athleticism, and how much that impacts how he is viewed.
Trimble’s strength won’t be the Combine itself, though. His value is rooted in what he can do within the framework of a game. That includes his intelligence in pick-and-roll sets and his ability to compensate for his lack of athleticism by changing speeds.
For Carter, he has found himself sneaking into the back end of the second round in some NBA Draft projections after he showed the tools to be a stretch-four at the next level.
Though sometimes streaky from deep, Carter upped his three-point shooting mark by seven percentage points over his sophomore season at Georgia Tech. He also increased his two-point percentage by nearly 10 percentage points and his free-throw mark by nine percentage points.
He will have to find out what value teams believe would come from returning, being that he will be a fifth-year senior if he comes back for another season. Would being the centerpiece of the 2016-17 team give him the chance to vault himself into the first round?
Lastly, Diamond Stone.
Stone reached as high as the Top 10 during the strongest stretches of his freshman season. Except for some flashes -- including carrying the team through some early rough patches against Hawaii in the NCAA tournament -- he was not the dominant force late in the year that he was earlier in games like his record-setting performance against Penn State.
The Combine would give Stone an opportunity to match up against his equals, though he appears solidly in the first round and his combination of age and upside will have most scouts’ attention anyway.
The NCAA now allows players to enter and withdraw from the draw with no cap in their college career. The NBA allows players to enter and withdraw twice before they are made automatically eligible in the draft that follows their second withdrawal.
So there is flexibility here that Maryland’s prospects can take advantage of -- especially because players who are to a much lesser extent on the NBA’s radar are already doing so.