Greivis Vasquez's Return Further Solidifies Bond With Gary Williams

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By Mike Wise
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Before Gary Williams's alter ego withdrew his name from the NBA draft and told his coach he was returning for his senior season on Monday, it was no secret in basketball circles: Greivis Vasquez didn't wow the people paid to poke and prod and run stopwatches on prospective pro players.

Heck, Notre Dame beefcake Luke Harangody and Pittsburgh's round mound of rebound, DeJuan Blair, who won the body-fat competition (12 percent) at the NBA pre-draft camp, ran faster times in the three-quarter-court sprint drill than Maryland's main man of last spring.

Syracuse skywalker Jonny Flynn's vertical leap was measured at an ungodly 40 inches, a full foot higher than the guy with the worst standing jump at the camp, Greivis Vasquez.

Which just perfectly fits this ongoing script about unwanted mutts ending up in College Park, no?

Emotional kid rescues Gary's program from the NIT rubble last winter, engineering a career-defining win over eventual national champion North Carolina. After a wild run secures an NCAA tournament bid, kid decides to test the NBA waters.

Even though he's outplaying top 15 picks-to-be in individual workouts, the NBA basically tells him he can't run or jump, and the Web site DraftExpress.com projects him at No. 58 in the second round, two spots from the last pick. Meaning no guarantees -- of money or even being plucked in the draft.

You could imagine Greivis Vasquez percolating with anger, the conversation he had with himself: "They don't think I can play, huh?"

The frustration builds until he finally goes back to the one place he is allowed to vent unconditionally -- the Comcast Center court -- to the one man who knew enough about his heart and his game that he never had to run tests on his explosiveness or speed -- Gary Williams.

"I love him," Williams said yesterday as he sat at the conference table in his office at Maryland.

"I love Coach," Vasquez says often.

Fueled by their emotions, both hunker-down fighters, you can almost envision coach and player back-to-back, with clenched fists dropping domestic and foreign enemies one by one, some of them real, some imagined.

The great thing about Vasquez returning isn't that it flies in the face of so many one-and-done kids making a farce out of the NBA's age-restriction rule; no, these two deserve each other for one more season, if for no other reason than what they've already gone through.


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© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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