end of the bench david pearman, maryland

Maryland junior David Pearman is a walk-on with a different beat

"I just kind of fill in whatever is the remaining weakness," Pearman, center, said of his role at Maryland.
"I just kind of fill in whatever is the remaining weakness," Pearman, center, said of his role at Maryland. (Tracy A. Woodward/the Washington Post)
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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 15, 2010

Don Pearman admits he has quite a temper, one that bubbles to the surface when midnight nears at his Columbia home and he still can hear "them damn drums" blaring from the basement. After all, one of the rules of the Pearman household is that all music stops at 10 p.m.

"They always go over, and my wife always nudges me in the side and says I need to be patient," Pearman said.

His oldest son, David Pearman, who made the Maryland men's basketball team as a walk-on two years ago, is responsible for all the racket. An adroit three-point shooter by day and a burgeoning bass guitarist by night, David Pearman assembled a reggae band last summer to nourish the second of his two primary passions. The Uphill Rockers hone their developing sound in Pearman's basement, much to the consternation of his father.

In about 2 1/2 seasons with the Terrapins, Pearman, a 6-foot-6 junior guard, has played a grand total of 31 minutes. This, he has learned, is the plight of a non-scholarship player. Instead, Pearman's role -- one teammates describe as highly valuable and one he has come to embrace -- is that of chief mimicker.

He dons a black jersey in practice and pretends to be the best shooter an upcoming opponent will have to offer. When game time comes, Pearman snaps out of character to provide useful insights on an opponent's schemes, with which by that point he is well familiar.

There were other opportunities for Pearman coming out of Oakland Mills High, of course. He could have accepted offers from Elon or Rhode Island or Wagner, among others, but Pearman chose to endure as a non-scholarship player because he had dreamed of being a Terrapin his entire life.

"He used to get recruiting calls, and then I'd hand the phone off to him, and then he was just monotone talking to these people," said Don Pearman, who has worked in the Maryland athletics academic support unit since 1992. "He didn't show any enthusiasm, any interest, and I asked him one day after a conversation, I said, 'What's the matter with you?' He says: 'I'm flattered, but I don't want to go to these schools. I want to go to Maryland.' "

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With just less than a minute remaining during Maryland's season-opening 38-point win over Charleston Southern on Nov. 13, Pearman stole the ball and tallied a layup. It was the first basket Pearman had scored in a game since his senior year at Oakland Mills, when he averaged 18.9 points per game en route to garnering first-team all-county honors.

"To me, that was a weird thing because I scored it and I was excited about it, obviously," Pearman said of his first collegiate points. "But at the end of the game, when all the adrenaline was gone, I was like, 'I scored those baskets all the time before.' "

Tall for his age, Pearman became the first freshman to play on the varsity squad at Oakland Mills since 1983. His father and many other observers thought at the time that Pearman was too tall to play guard at the Division I level. So Don Pearman, who played college ball at St. Lawrence (N.Y.), tried to teach David the finer points of boxing out and playing defense against bigger opponents. "But he always gravitated back to playing guard," the father said.

At the end of Pearman's senior season, he created a video that displayed his skills on the court and mailed it to the men's basketball offices at Comcast Center, along with a letter addressed to Coach Gary Williams. Through Chuck Driesell, a Maryland assistant, Pearman arranged a sit-down meeting with Williams that April. "It was kind of intimidating," Pearman said.

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