Maryland women's basketball coach Chris Weller remembered being in New Mexico in the summer of 1984, watching one AAU tournament game after another. Of all the players there from around the country, Weller particularly noticed a 6-foot-3 forward from Martinsburg, W. Va.

Although she had never heard of or seen Vicky Bullett before, Weller liked what she saw.

"Given the inconsistency of coverage in women's basketball, it's easy for someone like Vicky to get overlooked out of high school," Weller said. "She had never been to an all-star camp and she wasn't known to a lot of coaches. If I hadn't seen her at the AAUs, well, I probably never would have found her."

And what a find Bullett was. Now a junior, Bullett has developed into one of the best power forwards in the country and she is one of the reasons the 13th-ranked Terrapins (21-5) share the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title with Virginia. Maryland plays Georgia Tech Saturday in the first round of the ACC tournament in Fayetteville, N.C.

"She's got my vote for ACC player of the year," said Duke Coach Debbie Leonard, who has a talented player of her own in forward Chris Moreland. "Vicky is just an outstanding player. In the games I've seen this year, she is the most talented player in the conference."

Bullett averages 18.7 points per game, a career-high 60.1 field goal percentage and 69.1 percent from the foul line. She leads the team in blocked shots (34) and is second in steals (61).

In Maryland's upset victory over sixth-ranked Virginia last month, Bullett scored her 1,000th career point. She presently has 1,147 and could surpass Marcia Richardson's 1,630-point career record sometime next season. The school's rebounding record is also in jeopardy.

Although Bullett is the leading scorer, Weller thinks she is most talented on defense.

"Vicky is probably one of the best defensive post players in the nation and she's also our leading scorer and rebounder," Weller said. "Her strength is defense. She has good, quick defensive instincts and good offensive abilities."

After averaging 15.3 points last season, Bullett worked during the offseason on what she thought was her biggest weakness -- defense.

"I just kept working on my weakest skills and that was defense," said Bullett, an early childhood education major. "The offense is going to come, so I just focused on defense."

But Bullett's career at Maryland has not always been pleasant. During her freshman year, the team was investigated for drug abuse and theft. Players transferred and the program was in turmoil.

It was a time that Bullett doesn't like to talk about. "It was there and it's gone," she said. "You can't think about it and let it bother you. Things are going well now and all the problems are in the past."

Bullett never thought of transferring. "No, I knew if I gave my best effort, everything would be all right. Problems can be resolved and they were. I think we've progressed well."

Prior to choosing Maryland over Tennessee, Bullett was a two-time most valuable player at Martinsburg High School. She averaged 28.5 points and 16.5 rebounds in her senior year. Her parents, James and Frances, drive an hour and a half to every Maryland home game.

Based on her strong play this season, Bullett has become a contender for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. She will go to the Olympic trials in Colorado Springs in April.

"Based on the number of injuries nationally {former all-Americas Cheryl Miller and Texas' Clarisa Davis} in women's basketball, Vicky has the potential to go a long way in the trials," Leonard said.

Making the Olympic team won't be easy, but "it would be a dream come true," Bullett said. "But I have to worry about the {ACC and NCAA} tournaments first."