Len Bias is the best Terp of all time.
Maryland basketball is rebuilding under new head coach Mark Turgeon and, although this past season was dreadful, fans were left with a little optimism heading into next season. Guard Terrell Stoglin proved to be the Terps best player last season, but where does he rank among all time Maryland greats? Top 50? Top 10?
Okay. It's hard to breakdown which players rank in the top 10 all time greatest Terps, but the top five should be more definitive.
As I compiled my list, I listened to the opinions of many of colleagues before making my final decision. Manny, my editor, thinks my list is ridiculous and shows my age.
WUSA sports anchor Dave Owens thought my list was pretty solid after doing a little bit of his own research. The opinions in the office varied on both sides of the spectrum.
When finalizing the list, I thought about the player's stat line, his impact on his teams, the legacy he left behind, and the era he played in.
I did not consider what they did after they left Maryland (i.e. NBA). Basically, it came down to how great they played in Cole Field House or the Comcast Center.
TOP FIVE TERPS OF ALL TIME
5. Len Elmore 1971-1974 (PPG 11.8, RPG 12.2 FG PCT 49%)
In 2002, Elmore was honored as one of the 50 greatest players to ever play in the ACC. As a dominant force in the low post in the 70's for the Terps, Elmore averaged a double-double as soon as he hit the starting lineup in 1971. He is still the all-time leading rebounder in Maryland history. Lonny Baxter, who graduated in 2002, is a distant second, trailing Elmore by 55. In fact, Elmore holds the record for most consecutive double-doubles in Maryland history with 12.
Elmore was part of arguably one of the greatest Maryland teams in history. Along with John Lucas and Tom McMillen, the 1974 team was loaded with future pro talent. Elmore was the glue for this squad as they relied on his scoring and rebounding. He was a second team All-American that year and also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, a very significant honor.
4. Greivis Vasquez 2006-2010 (16 PPG, 5.7 APG, 4.8 RPG)
Say what you want, but few Terps have a better stat line than the Venezuelan point guard. He is only the third Terp ever to record a triple double and he is the only player in ACC history to record 2,000 points, 700 assists, and 600 rebound. ACC History. Naysayers will argue that in his first couple years, Vasquez's performance was as interchangeable as Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. However, it's those performances that you can see his impact on his teams. When he performed poorly, the team struggled and when he was hot, Maryland played at an elite level.
If you take Vasquez off any of his teams, those ball clubs automatically become terrible. There was a reason he was awarded the Bob Cousy award over front-runner John Wall. Above his athletic accolades, he was a leader. Do not discount him simply because he played recently.
3. Joe Smith 1993-1995 (PPG 20.2, RPG 10.7, FG PCT 55%)
Joe Smith was not widely recruited out of high school. Gary Williams had four consecutive losing seasons before snagging Smith. The acquisition of the power forward provided instant impact for Williams' program. In Smith's first season with the Terps, he helped the team finish .500 in conference and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. He averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds his freshman year.
During his sophomore year, he was one of the most dominant player in nation. Some credit him for being the first big recruit Williams landed to resurrect the program. He would probably be higher on the list if he didn't leave for the NBA so early.
2. Juan Dixon 1998-2002 (FG PCT 47%, 3pt FG PCT 39%, PPG 16.1)
Juan is the only player on this list to boast a national championship. He was clearly the best player on the 2002 roster and his Most Outstanding Player in the Tournament Award makes that more evident. Throw in the fact that he was a first team All-American, ACC Player of the Year, ACC Athlete of the Year, and the Chip Hilton Player of the Year all in 2002 it's hard to argue if any Terp has had a more decorated season.
In his last three seasons, Dixon never averaged under 18 points per game or shot under 46 percent on the season. Besides Vasquez, there is not another player that Coach Gary Williams has been more publicly passionate about. Dixon was the emotional leader during his tenure at Maryland and took over games when necessary. Oh yeah, he is still the all time scoring leader at the school.
1. Len Bias 1982-1986 (FG PCT 53%, 16.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG)
Standing at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Bias had LeBron James-like leaping ability before we even knew who the King was. His senior year, Bias averaged 23.2 points and seven rebounds a game. Boston Celtics scout Ed Badger called Bias, "the closest thing to Michael Jordan to come out in a long time."
Bias and Jordan actually played against each other when Len was a sophomore. Bias would record his then career-high of 24 points. He was a two time ACC Player of the Year award winner and also won ACC Athlete of the Year in 1986. His pictures hang all over Maryland's Stamp Student Union and even today students know the impact he made at Maryland. Anyone who follows college basketball closely knows this selection was a no brainer.
Honorable Mention: John Lucas and Tom McMillen
I went back and forth swapping players in and out of this list. I finally had to trust my instincts, but even I cannot believe that Lucas and McMillen didn't make the list. Like I stated earlier, they both were on arguably the greatest Maryland team that ever played. Lucas ended up being drafted first overall and McMillen also went first round.
I could not place McMillen over Elmore because Len was just a more integral part of the team. Lucas, however, was a more of a debate for me. I had him placed as high as three, but when I took in to account the impact each player had on his team despite of the stat line, and he just missed the cut. It also hurts his case that he also played with a lot of talent surrounding him. Other guys made just as big a splash as Lucas despite not having as talented a roster. For me that proved they had more of an impact for their teams.
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