By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 2, 2010; D05
Maryland senior Greivis Vasquez added one more bullet point to his lengthy list of accomplishments on Thursday when he won the Bob Cousy Award, given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation's top point guard. Vasquez became the first Terrapin and the third ACC player to claim the prize, which is in its seventh year of existence.
"It's just a blessing, man," Vasquez said. "If you were to ask me three years ago, I wouldn't see myself winning this award. But in a way, I would just because of my work ethic and how hard I work every day. I'm just so happy, and I'm thankful, and I still want to keep being a humble guy. And I still want to be hungry and keep working hard because I want to win so many more awards, but at the next level. I have to continue to work hard."
After electing to withdraw his name from the NBA draft last summer, Vasquez returned to College Park for a senior season in which he climbed to No. 2 on Maryland's all-time scoring list.
But according to Cousy, 81, he did not intend for the award to be given to a point guard with a high profile and a score-first mentality. The former Boston Celtics great, who played at Holy Cross from 1946 to 1950, said in a telephone interview in late February that he designed the honor as a nod to old-school point guards who can facilitate just as well as they can put the ball in the basket.
It doesn't always work out that way, Cousy acknowledged, but in Vasquez, the award's selection committee found a point guard who evolved over the course of his collegiate career into the type of floor general Cousy would admire.
"I think it comes down, frankly, to a matter of mind-set as to how you perceive your responsibilities," Cousy said. "To simplify it, when the Hall of Fame came to me and said we want to do this, I said I'd like to look for throwbacks, guys who are identified as point guards, who come over the half court with the mind-set that first I'm going to look to create something wonderful for one of the other four people, and then if I'm not successful in doing that, then as a last resort I'm going to take the shot myself."
For Vasquez, who was named the ACC player of the year and an Associated Press second-team all-American, shooting was never a last resort. But over the course of Vasquez's senior season, it became evident he had become more able to discern when he needed to engage his teammates in the flow of Maryland's offense and when he needed to assert himself as a scorer. He averaged 19.6 points and 6.3 assists per game.
Vasquez beat out finalists Sherron Collins (Kansas), Scottie Reynolds (Villanova), Jon Scheyer (Duke), Evan Turner (Ohio State) and John Wall (Kentucky) to win the award, which is determined by a vote of the Hall of Fame's Blue Ribbon Selection Committee, comprising media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers.
Part of the reason Vasquez returned to Maryland for his senior season was to improve his NBA draft stock to the point where he would be considered a lock to be selected in the first round. Some NBA talent evaluators believe that Vasquez made considerable strides in that regard over the past six months.
"He is now what you would call a guy that would be pro-ready," said Los Angeles Clippers assistant John Lucas, who played at Maryland from 1973 to 1976. "And I look at it from a different perspective. I look at who can come in and help a [NBA] team right away. He has that capability to help a team now, right away. Last year he didn't."