After reaching as high as the Top 10 midway through his freshman season at Maryland, current NBA Draft projections from DraftExpress.com have former Terrapins center Diamond Stone being selected No. 33 overall -- just inside the second round -- by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Unlike fellow Maryland underclassman Melo Trimble, though, Stone’s door back to College Park is shut after signing with an agent before the start of the draft process.
Speaking at the NBA Combine in Chicago last week, Stone talked about the pressure of now being 100 percent committed to going pro.
“I would say there’s a lot of pressure, but I’ve handled it well. I love pressure, you know?” he said. “I think I’ve performed well in the game situations and in this process. That’s why I’m working so hard. That’s why I decided to go to IMG [Academy for workouts], left my friends and family and to go to Florida and just focus on one thing -- getting better.”
Stone is an interesting mix of both potential and production for NBA teams.
As a freshman at Maryland, he averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in a shade under 23 minutes per game. At a certain point toward the end of the regular season, those efficiency numbers had put him in select company with players like NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns in terms of production for a freshman over the past 20 years.
The questions will more be about consistency, effort, conditioning, and maturity.
“I don’t pay attention to it. I don’t let it get to me. That stuff never got to me,” Stone said. “It has been a lot of haters throughout my high school career and I’ve just handled it well. Thanks to my parents, they get the pressure off me so I’m actually just blocking them out.”
At the Combine, Stone did not partake in 5-on-5 scrimmages, but measured 6-10 in shoes with a 7-2 wingspan.
The reality is he very well could still be taken in the first round. At 19 years old, his offensive post game is advanced and he has upside defensively as a rim protector, as he showed in stretches as a freshman.
“My agency, you know, whatever my agency tells me to do or tells me about other teams I know,” he said. “You know, mock drafts I don’t really pay attention to. I just listen to my agency and the teams that are talking to me.”