Julian Reese and DeShawn Harris-Smith sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the Xfinity Center media room following Maryland men’s basketball’s season-opening win over Mount St. Mary’s. Reese peered at the stat sheet on the table in front of him, breaking out into a smile before sliding his paper toward Harris-Smith. Both players then hunched forward, Harris-Smith looking on as Reese’s index finger scanned along the page.
After a few quiet seconds in the press room — both players were yet to look up — Harris-Smith was summoned. As the freshman guard fielded the first question, he couldn’t help but smile. There wasn’t a joke. He just appeared to be taking in the moment following his first collegiate game. But he quickly wiped away the smirk and put on his game face.
For Reese, a savvy media veteran, it was just another day at the office. So when he noticed Harris-Smith’s microphone not centered, Reese stuck his right arm across the table to twist it in front of his face.
“It really felt like a hometown hero, almost,” said Harris-Smith, a Woodbridge, Va. native. He shared that his family and high school team were in attendance for the big milestone.
That instance is a microcosm of the growing relationship between the rookie and his vet. Reese has taken Harris-Smith under his wing, the two already having formed a close connection, the junior forward said. When asked how their chemistry in the pick-and-roll is developing, Reese jumped at the opportunity to gush about his new teammate.
“Not to throw anybody under the bus, but he throws the best lobs,” Reese said, his face lighting up into a wide grin. “He throws it [to] the right spot. He knows when I want the lob. Sometimes I don’t really want no lob, I just want a regular pass.”
Harris-Smith averaged seven assists per game as a senior at Paul VI. The former No. 32 prospect in the nation is a willing passer, even if his first thought is often to put his head down and use his 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame to bully his way to the rim.
Reese and Harris-Smith have played the most possessions of any pairing on Maryland’s roster through the first three games, according to Hoop Explorer. In 97 possessions, the duo sports a 34.6 assist percentage, 40.7 free throw rate and a gaudy 41.7 percent offensive rebounding percentage. That means when the guard and big are on the floor together, the Terps have gotten a second chance on nearly half of their offensive possessions.
But the pairing has also had its struggles early on. When Reese and Harris-Smith share the floor, Maryland scores a putrid 92.8 points per 100 possessions, the lowest of any two-main pairing with more than 40 possessions, according to Hoop Explorer. In addition, lineups including the two players shoot 20 percent from three, have a 40.1 effective field goal percentage and turn the ball over on 21 percent of possessions.
While an extremely small sample size, Reese and Harris-Smith have shown promising results on the floor together, while also needing to gel in other areas — as most new teammates do.
As the pair works to get their on-court chemistry clicking, they’ll continue to build on their already-strong bond off of it.
“That’s my guy,” Reese said.
Both on the hardwood and in the media room, Harris-Smith is growing every game. Reese can be a guiding figure for the freshman as the Terps traverse through the grueling Big Ten slate. And the next time Harris-Smith needs his microphone adjusted, hopefully Reese will be right there to help him out.
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