Diamond Stone's game continues to expand and that growth continues to be reflected in NBA draft projections.
In a new 2016 mock draft released by DraftExpress.com on Sunday, Stone has climbed to No. 9 overall -- up one spot from No. 10 in the site's last release. DraftExpress points out that team needs are not yet considered in the process, with Stone settling one spot ahead of Kentucky center Skal Labissiere and one spot behind Kentucky guard Jamal Murray.
Of the first 10 players in the mock, seven are freshmen, two will have spent at least two years in college, and one is an international prospect. The international? Dragan Bender, the brother of Maryland forward Ivan Bender, who is projected to go No. 3 overall.
As for Stone, he battled admirably against two Goliaths in the post Saturday in a win over Purdue -- an effort that head coach Mark Turgeon called "by far his best game defensively."
MORE TERPS: TURGEON SAYS DEFENSIVE INTENSITY AT PREVIOUSLY UNFORESEEN LEVEL
Stone's offensive game will not be questioned. Even against the size of Purdue, he showed the ceiling he has on that end of the floor by working in the pick-and-roll game with guard Melo Trimble and stepping out to hit the mid-range shot over length.
The question will be whether he has shown growth defensively and at this point in the season he undoubtedly has. Prior to the game versus Purdue, he blocked eight shots in a win over Nebraska as more has been asked of him from a minutes perspective.
Elsewhere in the DraftExpress projection, Trimble is slotted at No. 16 overall, which for now would be Denver's pick. Senior forward Jake Layman is at No. 39 overall to New Orleans.
Maryland basketball had two players drafted in one night for the second time in three years Thursday night when the Denver Nuggets picked Justin Jackson with the No. 43 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Jackson was subsequently traded to the Orlando Magic as part of a deal that brought the No. 41 overall pick, Kentucky's Jarred Vanderbilt, to Denver.
After his freshman season, in which he averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc, Jackson declared for the draft without an agent, but elected to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. But he'd play just 11 games before being shutdown for the year with a torn labrum. His draft stock was hurt, but obviously not totally erased.
He had surgery in January and ended up being the first Terp to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft back in March. Though Jackson's recovery kept him out of the NBA Combine, teams were still intrigued by what they'd seen from him in the past to be willing to take a flyer.
A 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Jackson has the skill to play anywhere between the two or the four in the NBA, and the length to guard all kinds of players.
With Kevin Huerter headed to the last-place Atlanta Hawks, Maryland basketball's two draftees are slated to join last season's two worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
Maryland basketball's Kevin Huerter was drafted No. 19 overall Thursday night by the Atlanta Hawks.
He's the Terps' highest draft pick since the Phoenix Suns drafted Alex Len fifth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Huerter played two seasons with Maryland, averaging 12 points, five rebounds and three assists as a Terp. He's best known for his knockdown shooting ability, as he knocked down 46.6 percent of his shots from the field, including 39.4 percent of his three-point shots. During his sophomore season, he was better than 50 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from deep.
Back in April, when Huerter first declared for the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, it was widely assumed he was just testing the waters to get feedback from NBA scouts and would return to school for his junior season. But an outstanding performance at the NBA Combine saw his hardly existent draft stock skyrocket. Almost overnight, Huerter's name was popping up in the first round of mock drafts, and now what seemed like a no-brainer decision to return to school wasn't so clear.
On May 30, he announced that he would leave his name in the 2018 NBA Draft and hire an agent. He recently had surgery on a torn ligament in his hand, but is expected to miss only two months and make a full recovery by the time the 2018 NBA season starts.
With the Atlanta Hawks, Huerter should pick up right where he left off shooting in college, but can also provide high basketball IQ and sneaky athleticism. He and Trae Young join Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore who finished last in the Eastern Conference last season.
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