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Maryland basketball legends chime in on Vasquez: Branch

Adrian Branch registered 2,017 career points while playing at Maryland from 1982-85. He currently ranks fifth on the program's all-time scoring list. He played with another all-time Maryland great, Len Bias, during the last three seasons of his collegiate career.

These days, Branch works as a college basketball analyst for ESPN. In a recent phone interview, here's what he had to say about Maryland senior guard Greivis Vasquez ...

On Vasquez passing him in several categories in the Maryland career record book: "I hope he leaves one, man. Well, there's one that he won't get -- the all-time scoring leader at Cole Field House. You know what, man, it's all his turn. Congratulations to him. He did it in the non-glory years of Maryland. One thing that's different about what he's done. Everyone on that list has had celebrated teams. Juan Dixon won the national championship. John Lucas was arguably on the greatest team to never win a championship. Albert King and them were regular season champions. And Len Bias and myself were regular season champions. So he's done it in some non-distinct years, quietly. So, hey, congratulations to him."

Wait, did you say quietly? You might be the first person to ever describe Vasquez as doing anything quietly.: "Well, I mean, his style is one where, you know, he's vocal and he causes a strong reaction. But the team that's he had, who's been their most celebrated player that he's played with? James Gist? Those aren't the first names that you would run off when you mention all-time great players. They made solid contributions, you know, but he quietly has just gone about, man, he's quietly nestled into one of the all-time historic marks in that program, which is pretty impressive."

On what it takes to generate such prodigious statistics over the course of a collegiate career: "Well, one, you've got to be there for four years. Two, you've got to be durable and injury-free. And then three, you've got to just keep handling your business. And it's just that simple. It's not a lot to it. Two things that he does: He plays with tremendous confidence and he's able to make shots. You know what I mean? It's a simple formula; I couldn't over-analyze it for you. If you're going to get those records, how do you do it? You stay healthy, you stay for four years and you kick some butt. It's as simple as it gets. Period."

On his first encounter with Vasquez: "When he was going into his freshman year, Coach Stu Vetter said, 'Hey, I've got a guy that's going to be pretty good at Maryland. He's a 6-5 point guard, and I think he's going to make a big contribution.' And I shook (Vasquez's) hand. I met him up near Rockville Pike. He wouldn't remember that. But I shook his hand and said hello to him, and who would have known that he was going to be one of the great all-time scorers? Nice guy. Humble guy. He was just a nice kid. I'm 25 years removed from that program. He's my son's age, you know?"

On where Vasquez ranks among the all-time greats ever to play at Maryland: "Scoring-wise, it speaks for itself. Scoring-wise, it is what it is. He'll finish as one of the top players. But I mean, his legend is secure because ... Name probably the three best players in ACC history: Ralph Sampson, Michael Jordan and David Thompson. And Vasquez has done something that those great players have never done. Not Phil Ford, not Ty Lawson, not Jimmy Black, not none of 'em. Two thousand points, 700 assists, 600 rebounds. That's pretty impressive. That speaks for itself, man."

Right, but where would you place Vasquez amongst guys like yourself, Albert King, John Lucas, Len Bias, Walt Williams, Juan Dixon, etc.?: "Oh man, you know what? I guess where I would put him isn't appropriate for what his stats are. He's a very good player, a solid player. I wouldn't want to rain on his parade, man. It's about him. I'll let history place him where they gonna place him. I know his stats speak for themselves. The greatest player to me is still Len Bias. But hey, Len Bias, Juan Dixon, you can't take anything from those guys. They did their thing. One of their great players that they still never talk about greatly is Ernie Graham. And one of the guys that if he'd stayed four years would have broke all their records is Jerrod Mustaf. So there you go."

By Steve Yanda  |  March 18, 2010; 10:03 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

Yanda -

Nice series of articles. Am loving this series of all-time MD greats weighing in GV. Albert King remains my all-time favorite MD player.

Are you going to interview Buck? How about Lonny Baxter?

Interesting what Branch said about Jerrod Mustaf - he was a great talent and a very hyped recruit. Thought he should have stayed for another year. Never hear him mentioned among the MD greats - even when we start with one and two-year players like Wilcox, Joe Smith and Steve Francis.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 18, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Lenny will always be my favorite all-time Terp. I was a freshman during his senior season and was in awe every time I'd pass him in the Stamp Union. Always picture him wearing his long, fur trimmed leather coat!

HGR-
I had mentioned Mustaf in a past post when you brought up the topic of fast developing bigs. He should definitely be included on that list. Bad knees cut short his NBA career. Would have been nice to see him stay longer than 2 years, and Brian Williams not transfer. Unfortunately, I think Jerrod had Greg Nared feeding him the ball.

Posted by: mydogsnameisdixon | March 18, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

My dogs were named Buck and Al.

I think your post might have been one of the few times Mustaf has been mentioned. He played through some of the most unfortunate times for the program and maybe thats why most of us seem to omit him from our lists. And he left early.
Mustaf was starting for the Knicks at one point wasn't he?

I still feel that Brian Williams was the best freshman big we ever had. It was a real shame he freaked and transferred. However, if we get to the Sweet 16, I might change my opinion to JW. I was too young to truly recall Elmore or McMillen, although I went to a few games with my dad.

So i'd say best freshman big since Buck. Its hard to compare the different eras of the game, but I think if JW stays three years and healthy, his name would enter the "greats" list.

Albert King was playing while I was still in high school. to be fair, top to bottom, his teams were likely more talented than most when he got his numbers. Still my favorite although perhaps not the greatest all time. In my book it will always be Juan Dixon based on delivering a NC - with appreciation for the entire team around him especially Baxter.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 18, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

My cousin Adrian told it like it was. In our area these were the people who made maryland, maryland. John lucas, Lenny Elmore, Earnie Graham, Bernard King, Buck William, Jerrod Mustaf, Joe Smith, Wilcox's, Steve Francis, McMillian,My team mate from Northwestern H.S. Len (Frosty) Bias, My man who I played with though grade school my family Adrian Branch, and mr. Walt Williams who hailed from Crossland H.S. a 6 7 ball handler with a jump shoot, Juan Dixon and now Mr. Vasquez I hope this legancy will lead to some great times in Maryland's furture.

Posted by: docp56 | March 22, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

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