Jake Layman, while growing up in Wrentham, followed Atlantic Coast Conference basketball on a limited basis. He knew that Boston College was in the ACC, but when it came to signature programs he was well aware of Duke and North Carolina, perennial national powers.
A former hoop star at King Philip Regional High School, the 6-foot-8 Layman has landed at another ACC school with a rich basketball tradition. Layman is days away from his first season at the University of Maryland, which won the NCAA national title in 2002 but is coming off a 17-15 record last season under first-year head coach Mark Turgeon.
Layman’s father, Tim, a former baseball player at the University of Maine, has family in the suburbs north of Baltimore, about one hour north of the University of Maryland, and the younger Layman said in an interview Oct. 9 that played a role in his decision to join Terps Nation.
But being able to play in the tough ACC is another major factor for Layman, who is one of five brothers. His mother, Claire, played basketball at Maine.
“I think I can bring my shooting (ability). We need someone who can knock down shots,” said Layman, when asked what he brings to the Maryland program. “For me, I need to know every play so I can run the offense fluidly. We are starting to click right now.”
“I am a rebounder, too,” he added. “I can definitely get some rebounds and knock down shots. I have to be more aggressive on offense. When I get the ball I have to do something with it. I think my shooting will help a lot. I bring energy.”
Layman was rated the 17th best small forward in the country by ESPN and the third-best player in the Bay State. He averaged 26 points, five blocks and four assists as a senior at King Philip and then scored 7.6 points per game this past summer for the USA team that won gold at the U-18 FIBA Americas championship in Brazil.
The Terps open the season Nov. 9 against NCAA champion Kentucky at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the new home of the Nets of the NBA.
“It is going to be awesome. It is unreal,” he said of playing the Wildcats in a pro arena. “This is big-time basketball.”
Layman said he gained valuable experience this summer with the USA team, even though that forced him to miss some workouts with his new teammates at Maryland.
“I was very nervous, but I realized I could play with them. I was pretty consistent with my scoring,” he said. “It definitely got me ready for the speed and physicality of the game. I have a lot to look forward to, so it should be good.”
Layman grew up in Wrentham and his family still lives here. He will get a homecoming on Feb. 19 when Maryland plays at Boston College.
“Jake Layman was set back a little because he was on the U.S. team. He really had a great September and early October for us. He has come a long ways,” Turgeon said.