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Former Maryland Ballboy Adrian Bowie Wipes the Floor With California

Maryland begins its NCAA tournament run with an 84-71 win over the California Golden Bears, but the Terps fall short just two days later, overrun by No. 2 seed Memphis, 89-70, in Kansas City.

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By Mike Wise
Friday, March 20, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo.

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Gary Williams's former equipment manager, sitting almost 10 rows up at Sprint Center, rose and put his hands together for his favorite Maryland player of all time, the left-handed sophomore who bolted toward the goal, the kid laying the ball in with grace and elan to seal the game.

"Yay-hey, young fella!" John Bowie hollered toward his son, Adrian, the main intangible of the Terrapins' first-round NCAA tournament victory over Cal on Thursday.

Go ahead, go ga-ga over Greivis Vasquez's gumption or Dave Neal's uncanny ability to keep manufacturing gold out of his senior season. Keep making this about Gary's career, which less than two months ago seemed more on the bubble than his team.

They're all deserving stories.

But this is a better one.

It's about the Bowies, John and Adrian, the only two people for much of the last two decades to bear first-hand witness to as much Maryland magic -- and absolute wrenching heartbreak -- as Gary Williams.

It's about the man who laundered Walt Williams's tube socks, Steve Francis's jersey and quietly placed Juan Dixon's and Steve Blake's sneakers beside their cubicle in the College Park locker room, who decided when his son was 4 years old that it was time to make him a Maryland ballboy.

Because that's what John Bowie was for Lefty Driesell, a ballboy when Lenny Elmore, Tom McMillen and John Lucas starred at Maryland, before John Bowie put up numbers as a point guard at DuVal High School and then Bowie State "about 40 years and 100 pounds ago," he said.

It's about his boy mimicking Stevie Franchise and the rest of his athletic heroes, until Adrian became good enough to run the floor with Vasquez and Kevin Durant at Montrose Christian, until he became good enough to stop wiping up wet spots between timeouts and start finding his spots on the floor in Williams's flex offense.

Finally, it's about that kid maturing and playing in America's greatest sporting event in front of his old man.


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