By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Based on the numerous discussions he'd had with Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez over the past month, teammate Cliff Tucker figured he soon would be searching for a new roommate. Vasquez frequently returned home from NBA workouts and shared with Tucker the feedback he had received. Most of it was positive.
So when Tucker headed to a workout at Comcast Center yesterday -- the day on which underclassmen had to decide whether to remain in the NBA draft -- he assumed grim news was awaiting his return.
"I kind of had a feeling he was going to go," Tucker said. "He had a lot of great workouts and I knew he was doing good against some of the top guys in the draft, so I actually kind of thought he was going to leave."
Tucker was relieved to discover his premonition was incorrect. After meeting with Maryland Coach Gary Williams and Stu Vetter, one of Vasquez's closest confidants who coached the player at Montrose Christian, Vasquez withdrew his name from the NBA draft and will return to College Park for his senior season.
The decision bolsters a Maryland squad aiming to build off a second-round appearance in last season's NCAA tournament and also will allow Vasquez to make the adjustments in his game necessary to become a potential first-round pick in next year's draft.
Vasquez led the team in scoring (17.5 points per game), rebounding (5.4) and assists (5), among other categories, in 2008-09. He became the first Terrapin in program history to accomplish such a feat and earned second team all-ACC honors as a result.
"I'm excited," Williams said in a phone interview. "He talked to about 14 or 15 [NBA] teams and really got a good feel for his situation. I think he's made a great move. He returns as possibly the best guard in the ACC and one of the best guards in the country."
Vasquez had until 5 p.m. yesterday to make his decision and the 6-foot-6 guard used nearly all of his allotted time. Less than three hours before the deadline, Vasquez met with Williams and Vetter in Williams's Comcast Center office for the second time in as many days to weigh the player's options.
Vetter said he spoke with "a high percentage" of the NBA general managers whose teams observed Vasquez's workouts and all confirmed Vasquez one day would play in their league. But Vetter said this decision was about Vasquez's long-term future, and he believes Vasquez made the right call.
The 2009 NBA draft is loaded with talented point guards -- the position Vasquez repeatedly has insisted he will play as a professional. Eight point guards could be selected in the first round, and Vasquez was projected as a second-round pick. For all of Vasquez's talents, his defense and shooting accuracy were inconsistent last season.
Next year's draft figures to be less point guard-heavy, which bodes well for Vasquez's chances of becoming a first-round selection.
"After a great deal of thought, consideration and research, I have decided to withdraw my name from the NBA draft and return to the University of Maryland for my senior year," Vasquez said in a prepared statement. "The experience that I have gained over the past few weeks has been invaluable and something that will help me to better prepare to play professional basketball after my senior season."
Among the central figures who guided Vasquez over the past month were Maryland assistant Robert Ehsan, who scheduled Vasquez's NBA workouts, and Vetter, who said he acted as the point man for the "dozens" of agents who were interested in offering their services if Vasquez chose to stay in the draft.
Vetter said that even as of yesterday morning he did not have a strong feeling on which direction Vasquez would go because "it came down to the last few calls" with NBA teams that had shown interest in selecting Vasquez.
In the end, Vasquez decided to stay put, and that was just fine with his roommate.
"He's a great leader. He helps the team out a lot; he helps me out a lot," Tucker said. "With him coming back, I think that will make us a better team and we'll have a chance to do bigger and better things this upcoming season."