Diamond Stone hinted at it not long after he committed to Maryland. In an interview with CSN before the 2015 McDonald's All-American Game, it was clear one of the major factors that he had in mind when choosing to play for the Terrapins.
"Pick-and-roll with me and Melo [Trimble]," he said. "That's unstoppable right there."
As Stone returns to his home state, Wisconsin, for the Terrapins' matchup against the Badgers on Saturday in Madison, a 15-game sample size is enough to confidently say that the five-star Maryland freshman did himself a major favor when it comes to his development as a young player by choosing to play in College Park over the one-time, in-state favorite.
The Terrapins and Badgers have followed two very different paths this season, Maryland reaching as high as No. 2 in the nation, while Wisconsin has endured the departure of two first-round NBA draft picks, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, and the in-season departure of its coach, Bo Ryan, to begin the season 9-7.
But it comes down to really one factor as to why Stone is personally in such a good position -- personnel.
Head coach Mark Turgeon has called Stone the team's "sixth starter" and he is settling into his role off the bench partly because the starting lineup is so stacked with offensive talent that Turgeon would like to spread the wealth around a bit.
That has to be balanced with one of the promises he made to Stone during his recruitment, though.
“I think I’ve done this long enough now where you just coach and I know what’s inside Diamond and I know what I have to get out of him," Turgeon said. "There is a great responsibility when you’re recruiting him and you’re telling him, ‘Hey, you know, I do think you can play at the next level.’ Well then you better make sure he gets there."
It is nearly impossible for defenses to focus solely on him when he is surrounded by Robert Carter, Jr., Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon, and the player who helps him initiate a good portion of his post touches, Trimble.
“That’s the main reason why I picked Maryland," Stone said. "Because, first of all, you have a great point guard, Melo Trimble. He’s probably the best point guard I’ve ever played with. His vision is just off the charts. He makes plays and he does a lot for the team.”
But it's not just on the perimeter.
Stone, coming from Wisconsin, did not face players his size for much of his high school career. In practice, a 6-8 assistant coach would defend him to level the playing field, he says. Now, he faces Carter, Jr., plus seven footers Michal Cekovsky and Damonte Dodd daily.
"Diamond is an elite talent in his own right," Sulaimon said. "But then when you put him with a Jake Layman, with a Robert Carter, with a guy like myself or Melo Trimble, we make the game easier for each other."
The result is less pressure, less of a spotlight, and more opportunities to gain confidence without being shouldered with the weight of carrying a team or being labeled a hometown disappointment if struggles happen. So far, he has gotten what he has wanted.
“I wanted to be a championship contender," Stone said of why he chose Maryland, "and I want to win games.”