Barring a miraculous sprint to the championship game, the ACC tournament likely will be the end of Berend Weijs’s college basketball career. And not long after the ACC champion is crowned on Sunday, Weijs’s time in the United States will come to an end, as well.
A native of Amsterdam, Weijs must return to the Netherlands within 60 days of his graduation unless he turns pro. Maryland’s 6-foot-10 senior center will leave College Park with a degree in agricultural and resource economics, a network of friends and potential business contacts, and bittersweet feelings.
“On one hand, I can’t wait to go home,” Weijs said in a recent interview. “But on the other, this life will be over. It’s going to be different after college, so it’s a mixed feeling.”
In his two seasons with the Terrapins after transferring from Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Weijs appeared in 53 games and started seven, averaging 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.
But he was never more valuable than during the first 10 games of this season, when 7-1 freshman Alex Len was sidelined by an NCAA suspension for running afoul of NCAA eligibility standards. During that span, Weijs played 16.1 minutes per game, helping forward James Padgett shore up Maryland’s front court.
Once Len was eligible to compete, starting with the Dec. 28 game against Albany, Weijs’s minutes dropped to 9.2 per game. But his enthusiasm never waned, at least outwardly; Weijs was often the first bench player leaping to his feet to cheer his teammates. And Weijs’s commitment was much the same in practice, according to Coach Mark Turgeon, throwing himself into the task of making Len a better player.
“The thing I’ll always remember about Berend is what a great teammate he is, what a great guy he is,” Turgeon said. “He never worried about playing time or stats. He worries about us being the best team we can be. There aren’t many kids like that anymore.”
Added Weijs, about the prospect of leaving College Park: “It’s kind of sad, but I met a lot of great people. Now I have a reason to visit the United States a couple more times.”