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Men's Hoops Roster Breakdown: Backcourt

Here’s a sneak-peak at the Terps’ 2015-16 roster a week ahead of Media Day and Maryland Madness. The Terps are ranked atop a handful of preseason polls, and there hasn’t been this much excitement at College Park for hoops in decades.

PG Melo Trimble: It's pretty hard to nit-pick Melo after his standout freshman year.  If anything, he should have less pressure on him this year, due to the depth the roster provides.  He'll have a great defender next to him in Sulaimon, and a capable ball handler in Jaylen Brantley to spell him. Clearly, the Big Ten has had a year to scout him, so it will be interesting to see what adjustments opponents make to his game as a sophomore. I can see Melo getting more open looks, because there will be so many other offensive options on the floor. Trimble won't have to play 35 minutes a game this year, so we can envision a more dedicated effort on defense to emerge, while he continues to be extremely effective on the offensive end of the court.

PG Jaylen Brantley: Brantley's role seems evident....take ball handling pressure off Trimble, and hit open shots.  We'll have to see how quickly this JuCo transfer picks up the system, but he's been a winner throughout his high school and AAU careers.  Though not extremely explosive, Brantley is a ‘tough cookie,’ who will not back down, and is a GREAT open shooter.  If he does well early, you can easily move Trimble to the 2G, and you've got two deadly outside bombers on the court. No one's talking about Brantley, and it may take a while, but this kid is a winner.  I look for him to have a significant contribution as the year rolls along.

SG Dion Wiley: Wiley showed up in bad shape last year as a freshman, but reportedly now has dropped over 20 pounds, and is showing a renewed commitment to defense.  I never sensed Wiley was all that comfortable on the court last year, as he had some games where he shot well and others where he shot very poorly.  He'll have no choice but to step up this year with Sulaimon on board, if he wants to get significant minutes.  The good news is that the local product has loads of a shooter, and also as a passer.  Stepping up on defense though will be the key to his playing time.

SG Rasheed Sulaimon: Should easily be the Terps' best perimeter defender, and he'll create havoc slashing to the bucket, while also being a 3-point threat.  It will be interesting to see if he steps up as a leader, being a newcomer to the program.  Dez Wells did that over time, but with Sulaimon, it's a one shot, one year deal.  Rasheed should also provide a viable second ball handler in the backcourt.  The major question will be how much rust is in his game after his inactivity over the past year.

SG/SF Jake Layman: At times last year, Layman was one of the nation's most dynamic performers. At other times, he was almost invisible on the court.  Consistency is what Coach Mark Turgeon will be looking for from Layman, who should play almost exclusively at the SF slot this year.  As a senior, he will need to adapt better to the physical style of play in the Big Ten, and exert himself more at crunch time.  All the skills are there, although an upgrade in ball handling is needed.  Layman has obvious pro potential. If he plays well on a consistent basis, the Terps should go far come March.

SF Jared Nickens: Defense is not something this smooth wing played a lot of last year, so that will be the one area he will have to concentrate on.  Getting stronger will help in that department.  The one great thing about Nickens that impressed last year was that the lights never got too bright for him. Jared is a tremendous open shooter, and never showed any hesitancy to fire it up at crucial times of the game.  His poise as a freshman was exceptional. Improving his defense and continuing to upgrade his ability as a creator on offense should be his main focal points.  Look for Nickens and Wiley to fight for wing minutes, which will be hard to come by with Sulaimon on board, and Layman playing a lot of SF.

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