The 2008-2009 Naismith Awards Early Season Watchlist came out a couple of days ago and there was a very deserving name left off that list. As a student at the University of Maryland, I felt compelled to write this story to let people know about our sensational Venezuelan guard who was left off that list.
The guy who has outplayed every other point guard in the ACC in head to head matchups. The guy who Mike Krzyzewski and Johnny Dawkins raved about so much to Team USA that Kobe Bryant asked to take the assignment as a personal challenge at the 2006 FIBA Americas tournament.
If you don't know who I am talking about by now, his name is Greivis Vasquez and he is the catalyst and starting guard for the 8-2 Maryland Terrapins.
If you haven't seen Vasquez play, you've missed out on watching one of the best players in the country. Vasquez leaves it all out on the floor every game and win or lose we know Greivis Vasquez gave his all. Vasquez plays with energy and passion that is unmatched by any opponent. His pregame staredown of the opposing team ignites the crowd and makes the Comcast Center one of the toughest places to play in the country.
Averaging 17.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists, he is the leading scorer, rebounder and assister for the Terps this season. I dare you to find another player in country at the division 1 level who is leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assisting.
How then does Greivis Vasquez get overlooked as a candidate for the Naismith Award?
I'm not going to name any names and say Greivis should have been on the list instead of this person or that person because I feel like that would be a classless thing to do. All of the guys that made the list are all good players and have worked hard to be recognized as such.
What I am saying is that Vasquez is just as deserving and should have been on the list based on his numbers and what he does for his team.
Sure Maryland hasn't been in the spotlight much of late, but that is no reason to punish a kid who is playing arguably as well as anybody in the country right now. I'm sure he won't let it bother him though. He has been getting overlooked by the media for the past 3 years.
As a Freshman, Vasquez was a rebound short of recording a triple-double against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds. Last year as a Sophomore he averaged 17 points, 5.7 rebounds and an ACC leading 6.8 assists per game, yet the only recognition he got was being named to the All-ACC 2nd Team.
Last season, in Vasquez's head to head matchup with Tywon Lawson (who is regarded by many as the top guard in the ACC), Vasquez put up 12 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds in a Maryland win over then No. 1 North Carolina. That was in the Dean Dome by the way. Still not impressed?
Well in Maryland's loss to UCLA last season, Greivis matched up with Russell Wesbrook (the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft) and put up 19 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds.
I could go on and on about guys Vasquez has outplayed over the years, but I recommend that you take a look at him for yourself. Tune in and catch the Terps so you can see just how good this guy is. Maryland's next six games are all at home and a few of them are regionally televised on Comcast Sports. The next time Maryland is on primetime is January 24th at Duke. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
If you have the opportunity to watch a Maryland game then or anytime before, I urge you to do so because this kid is just that good. You might even find yourself rooting for the Terps because of how hard Vasquez and his teammates play.
Even though Maryland isn't getting alot of attention this year, they have a solid group of guards that can play with anybody in the country. They also play a tough ACC schedule that includes playing Duke and North Carolina each twice on primetime.
So Vasquez and the Terps will have ample opportunities to prove themselves to the country. If they play the way they're capable to playing it won't be long until the whole of college basketball fears the turtle again.