Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne have all officially left the building. Unlike Dave Neal's exit last year, or even Boom Osby's departure the year before that, the three will leave a massive void in this team. They were Maryland basketball for the past three years, as big a part of the team as Gary Williams. Vasquez will be especially hard to replace, as claimed his spot as one of the greatest players in Maryland history with a dominant senior year.
The question on a lot of people's minds is, "Where does Maryland go from here?" The answer: straight to Jordan Williams.
Coming into the season, we didn't know how good he'd be, or if he'd even start. I predicted 8 points and 6 rebounds for him; others said he looked out of shape and wouldn't stand up in an ACC game.
He blew all the predictions out of the water. Although it may only look he scored two more points and grabbed two more rebounds per game than my prediction, what was impressive was his ceiling. Jordan impressed everyone with his savvy, soft hands, and occasional ability to dominate.
What will be lost in the hub-bub surrounding Greivis' finale is that Jordan dropped his second double-double in a row. Against Houston, he had 21 and 17 for one of the best debut tournament games in Maryland history. Against Michigan State, he had 10 and 10. He also had double-doubles against Villanova, Longwood, Clemson, Virginia, N.C. State, and Duke. The NCAA has quietly been introduced to one Mr. J. Williams.
Shockingly, he did all this while being (lovably) pudgy and what most of us would describe as a little overweight. But two things are clear - the natural athletic talent is there, as is savvy and knowledge beyond his years. The S&C coach at Maryland - Paul Ricci - is one of the best in college basketball, and I wouldn't be surprised if Jordan Williams starts to look like Trevor Booker next year.
Really, that's the only thing holding him back from being utterly dominant. As long as he doesn't hit a sophomore slump and his progression continues on a reasonable trajectory, he could be second team All-ACC next year. Great big men come at a premium in this game, and Jordan Williams is one.
Unfortunately, this game will play a major role in his career, just like it will play a role in Greivis Vasquez's. Williams, however, has time to change that. Much the way that Vasquez's sophomore, junior, and senior seasons were his, I expect the next three to be Jordan's.
With Vasquez gone, it's up to him, more than anyone else, to find redemption for the loss. Don't be surprised if it motivates him enough to become great next year and one of the best in the following two seasons. All that's needed is one more major piece, and the team will go as far as Jordan carries them. And that might be pretty far.