Coming Full Circle

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COMING
FULL CIRCLE

by Charlie Wright

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As senior forward Jake Layman embarks on the end of his four-year career at the University of Maryland, he recently received the ultimate compliment from head coach Mark Turgeon. Highly regarded for his shooting ability since his freshman season, Layman has been acknowledged by Turgeon for his evolution into a “complete player.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of Jake and the person he has become over the last four years,” Turgeon said. “He has really worked hard to become a team leader and evolved into a tremendous player. Most importantly, however, Jake will have earned his degree at the University of Maryland.”

Layman was a four-star prospect out of King Philip Regional High School who played on the USA team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. His impressive frame and boundless athleticism was enticing to college coaches, and Turgeon was intent on bringing in the native of Wrentham, Mass.

“When he started to contact me, I kind of got that family vibe from him, which is what I was looking for,” Layman said. “He’s a family man, and treats his team the same way.”

Layman started 17 games that first season, shuffling between the starting lineup and a bench role. In just his second start, he poured in 18 points in the first half against Virginia Tech, finishing with 20. It was clear he had the quickness and shooting touch to be a prolific scorer. His best performance was in the Terps’ biggest win of the season, a near double-double in an ACC tournament win over No. 2 Duke. Layman’s 10 points and nine rebounds backed up Dez Wells’ 30 points, and Turgeon’s squad knocked off Duke for the second time that season.

Maryland went to the NIT semifinals, falling to Iowa. Their 25-13 record was the best in six years, and the successful season cemented Turgeon’s role as the coach of the future. He had established himself as the man to lead the Terps back to prominence and his relationship with young Layman continued to develop.

“I think we kind of created our own bond,” Layman said. “I feel comfortable going to him and talking to him about anything.”

Layman continued to improve in Maryland’s final season in the ACC, starting all but four games and leading the team in minutes per game and made 3-pointers. He was third on the team in scoring, and put up a career-high 27 points against Morgan State.

Maryland had a breakthrough season in year four of the Turgeon regime. The 2014 squad won 26 regular season games, a school record, and appeared in the NCAA tournament for the first time under Turgeon. Layman was at the heart of the emergence, scoring in double figures 29 times and leading the team in rebounding. He stuffed the stat sheet all year, setting career marks in rebounding against Rutgers and assists against Winthrop.

Layman was surrounded by a solid mix of secondary contributors. Veterans like Richaud Pack and Evan Smotrycz brought additional experience and First Team All-Big Ten freshman Melo Trimble and Jared Nickens provided extra scoring along with Layman and Wells. Instead of just adding talent, Turgeon brought in the type of players who could help sustain success as a program.

“He’s recruited a lot of good young men,” Layman said. “[Players] that want to come in and learn and ultimately win basketball games. Our team is just full of guys that want to win.”

Layman opened the 2015-16 season on the John Wooden Award Watch List and earned a preseason All-Big Ten selection. The Terps came into the season with more hype than they’ve had in over a decade, and have already produced stellar results. Layman continues to be a big part of that success, leading the team in rebounding in seven games and notching a double-double in the recent win at Ohio State.

Layman is a witness to the rapid rise of Maryland basketball, and been a driving force to resurrecting a storied program. The previously baby-faced small forward has even sported a few whiskers in his final year, a season which appears to be the crowning achievement of a special college career.

“It’s been amazing,” Layman said. “Just being part of the transformation of an entire program. It’s been a lot of fun seeing this program get back to where it should be.”

Layman has the aspiration to play in the NBA next year, and certainly has the size and shooting ability to play at that level. But no matter where he plays or who he plays for after college, Layman will always have a strong relationship with Turgeon.

“I think I will keep contact with him forever,” Layman said. “That’s what you want to leave college with after four years. With a head coach were you have that relationship of a second father.”

Coming Full Circle is a special presentation of umterps.com.

Charlie Wright is a junior journalism student at the University of Maryland and is a contributing writer to umterps.com.

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