Berend Weijs didn’t quite know what to expect when he took a chance trip down to College Park for a pickup game last month.
The 6-foot-10, 205-pound center from Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., stepped on the Comcast Center court and was immediately matched up with Jordan Williams. Little did Weijs know that his opponent was a member of the All-ACC Freshman team and one of the most promising young post players in the country.
“I don’t follow college basketball that much,” Weijs said. “I don’t really know the [recent] champions or who won the ACC tournament. I really don’t follow college basketball that much, and I’m bad with names, so I really don’t have a clue. The only guy I knew was [Greivis] Vasquez, because he’s in the highlights and stuff. The other guys, I didn’t see them a lot, so for me they were just another [type of] competition. I didn’t know.”
Weijs held his own during the first game and returned to College Park shortly thereafter – with a Harcum teammate – for another. On his third trip to Maryland, recommendations from several Terps players and a full scholarship were riding on his play. Still, Weijs said he never felt any nervousness or pressure on the court.
“Well, when I played with the guys and played good, I was in my comfort zone as soon as I started playing with the guys,” he said. “The first time, I didn’t know what to expect. But I played pretty good that first time. The second time, I was a little more comfortable. Then the next time, I was comfortable, too. But I never knew until the coach said he was offering me a scholarship. I really didn’t know how bad they wanted me.”Since Weijs’ commitment nearly two weeks ago, he has conducted several interviews, sifted through scores of Facebook friend requests from Terps fans, graduated from Harcum College and embarked upon his summer vacation. He flew home to the Netherlands last week to be with friends and family before starting his college career at Maryland.
While he didn’t necessarily expect – or know what it meant – to play for a high-major program after his two years of junior college, Weijs couldn’t be more excited for how things worked out. Signing with Maryland only reinforced his decision to leave home two years ago.
“I needed to get away. I needed to live alone,” Weijs said. “I actually couldn’t get far away enough because my mom is really taking care of me and really good at what she does, but she took care of me too much. I had to get a little away from that. In the United States, she can’t just come over. It’s hard to get a ticket to the United States, so I really got out on my own.
“My parents, they’re proud of me, that I did it. My dad is really happy that I’m going to Maryland. He loves the Washington area and Maryland is close to there. ... It’s been a really good experience for me.”
Here’s an introduction to Weijs:
Name: Berend Weijs
Birthdate: Dec. 15, 1988
Birthplace: Zaandam, Netherlands
Hometown: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Weight: “205, but [at Maryland] they’re going to put 20 pounds on me before the season.”
Position: Power forward and center
High School: Ichthus College
Junior College: Harcum College (Pa.)
Sophomore statistics: 6.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.1 blocks
Other schools considered: “Northwood (Fla.), Hampton, Longwood. USC and Virginia … the day I signed they called my coach.”
Favorite pro basketball player: Dirk Nowitzki
Favorite pro basketball team: Orlando Magic
Favorite all-time Terp: “I didn’t start following college basketball until I came here. The best player I know is [Greivis] Vasquez.”
Favorite music: Jay-Z, house, techno
Favorite book: “The Game” by Neil Strauss
Favorite movie: “Ali”
Favorite TV show: “Martin”
Favorite food: Chipotle
Favorite junior college class: International business
Favorite thing about College Park: “Probably Comcast Center.”
Hobbies: “Playing a lot of basketball. I used to snowboard, but I stopped. I used to DJ a little bit, but I stopped. I used to play in clubs back home and I got paid pretty good. One time I DJ’d at a party at my college right here.”
Intended major: Business
Something that not many people know about you: “I’m from a country where everyone’s really open. If you know me, you know me like 100 percent.”
Best basketball moment: “Winning the Gold Cup in Holland. [It was] the national cup for under-23 elite last summer.”
Role model: “My dad is an important role model, of course. Some coaches I had were good role models, so I’ve got a couple. It’s not just one.”
Why Maryland? “It’s in the ACC and there was a spot for a big man. I like the team and I think they like me, too. They went to the coach to say that they liked me and wanted to play with me. That’s really important for me if the players say that. That’s a big part.”