Evaluating Maryland’s Freshman Duo: Anthony Cowan & Justin Jackson

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on December 27th, 2016

Losing experienced seniors such as Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon was a big concern for Maryland heading into this season. Without Layman’s energy and Sulaimon’s offensive versatility, the Terrapins needed the talented trio of Robert Carter, Diamond Stone and Melo Trimble to stick around campus. Trimble’s sole decision to return saved whatever was left of Mark Turgeon’s roster, but considering all the key personnel losses, Turgeon has to be pleased with a 12-1 record heading into today’s Big Ten opener against Illinois. The primary reason that the Terps have not dropped off the cliff has been the surprisingly consistent contributions from freshmen Anthony Cowan and Justin Jackson.

Anthony Cowan's emergence at the point guard position should help Melo Trimble's offensive production.

Anthony Cowan’s emergence at the point guard position should help Melo Trimble’s offensive production. (Getty)

Cowan’s reliability in handling the ball allows Trimble to roam around to find his shot. This dynamic was blatantly obvious in the second half against Charlotte last week when Trimble nailed multiple long-range shots that were assisted by the freshman. Cowan is averaging a team-high 3.7 assists per game, and while his 2.5 turnovers per contest is too many for a player getting over 70 percent of the available minutes at the position, he will improve as he gains more experience. During Maryland’s one-point wins over Georgetown and Oklahoma State, Cowan took some of the pressure off Trimble by averaging 11 points per contest. Another impressive aspect of the young point guard’s game is his ability to get to the free throw line — he attempted 23 total free throws against Georgetown, Charlotte and Oklahoma State, already showing his maturity in understanding there’s more to the game than long jump shots.

Freshman point guards typically hit a wall at some point during the grueling Big Ten season, so Turgeon will need another player to diversify the Terrapins’ offensive production. Jackson’s soft touch from beyond the arc and proven ability to score in transition makes him a reliable third option. The freshman forward is averaging 11.3 points per game, shooting a stellar 47.4 percent from beyond the arc, and pulling down 6.1 rebounds per game. Statistics aside, his game generally complements Cowan’s skill set. Positioning Cowan at the top of the key and letting Trimble run off screens to find his shots in the corners should free up a few secondary option looks for Jackson’s smooth jumper. Both freshmen have already shown that they are the future of the Maryland program, but the time is now in that a 12-win non-conference campaign provides an excellent launching pad for the next generation of Terrapins to start taking center stage.

Deepak Jayanti (270 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *