Excitement is starting to bubble around the Maryland men’s basketball program after a disheartening regular season.

Coach Kevin Willard secured a pair of transfers in Rodney Rice and Ja’Kobi Gillespie. Julian Reese announced he’ll return to College Park next year despite speculation he’d transfer. And now, the Terps’ most prized commit in more than a half-decade introduced himself on a national stage.

Five-star center Derik Queen won co-MVP at Tuesday’s McDonald’s All-American game in Houston. The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder racked up game-highs of 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 23 minutes, giving Maryland fans a glimpse into what the program’s first commit to play in the game since 2018 could provide in the fall.

Queen drew rave reviews for his performance. Bleacher Report lead NBA scout Jonathan Wasserman called him the most productive player at the event and praised his “blend of strength and soft hands around the basket with unique passing IQ.” An Associated Press story said Queen outshined his high school teammate and the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Cooper Flagg.

[Maryland men’s basketball lands commitment from five-star big Derik Queen]

The Baltimore native looked like the best player on the floor Tuesday despite sharing it with the most highly-touted prospects in the country. He played a simple but effective style of basketball, mostly hovering around the basket for dump-off passes or putback layups. Queen displayed his college-ready frame on various occasions, outmuscling opponents on the interior with four offensive rebounds.

Queen is primarily a below-the-basket finisher, meaning he rarely rises up for highlight dunks or alley-oops. But he utilizes well-paced dribbles, slight hesitation moves and pump fakes to outsmart the defense near the basket when he isn’t backing his opponent down.

After starting the game as the East team’s lone center, Queen shared the floor with Kentucky commit Jayden Quaintance for much of his time in the second half. It offered a potential look into how he could fit in a two-big man lineup with Reese next season. He operated more at the elbows and the mid-post in those spurts, even fading off one screen to receive a pass along the three-point line.

Queen’s advanced passing was also on full display. He dished out five assists, including a couple of timely passes to cutting teammates for layups. One of those came out of a face-up along the baseline, a move Queen used earlier in the game to get to the rim and convert a layup.

[With Derik Queen committed, Maryland’s offseason has clear direction]

Scouts knew about Queen’s polished offensive game. His defensive prowess was the bigger question heading into Tuesday, but he showed positive flashes on that end of the floor too.

Queen was used in a variety of defensive pick-and-roll coverages. He started the game in a drop, a scheme that deploys the big man at a predetermined depth below the on-ball screen. Queen hedged on the next defensive possession, a coverage where the big jumps out to prevent the ball handler from turning the corner while the guard returns to his defensive position.

He collected three steals, each of them coming after he poked the ball free from a guard while hedging a ball screen. Queen also played a few defensive possessions on the perimeter while in the two-big man lineup. He displayed the ability to slide with guards and be nimble on his feet despite speed being a red flag on his scouting report.

Queen’s conditioning will need to improve if he wants to play major minutes as a freshman, and he’ll need to continue progressing as a defender. But the future Terp showed why he was one of the best players in high school basketball this past season, and why Maryland poured years of devotion into securing the hometown player.