Maryland has told former basketball players Ernest Graham and Johnny Rhodes that they will soon join 16 other Terps whose names and numbers appear on banners hanging from the Comcast Center rafters.

The players — from different eras — confirmed in interviews Thursday with The Baltimore Sun that they have been notified by the athletic department that they will be honored this season.

Maryland does not retire basketball numbers. Instead, the school hangs mock jerseys from the roof and holds ceremonies for players. The latest to be cited was guard Greivis Vasquez last February, joining Juan Dixon, Len Bias, Steve Francis and other former Terps stars.

The inclusion of some players over others almost always generates debate among Terps fans. Some fans have been advocating for former Olympian Steve Sheppard, guard Brad Davis and swingman Adrian Branch.

The school has not made an announcement about Rhodes or Graham (Dunbar) — apparently because it is still finalizing its plans. Both players said they had received word directly from the athletic department. Other Maryland insiders had heard the news as well.

"It's indescribable, really," said Rhodes, who played for Gary Williams and set Maryland's single-season record for steals in 1996. "I'm just definitely thrilled and honored to be part of the guys who are up there and have had these great careers."

Rhodes, Maryland's career steals leader and the No. 10 player on the school's all-time assists list, said he expects to be honored Feb. 21, which coincides with the Terps' game against Miami at Comcast Center.

Graham played for coach Lefty Driesell from 1978 to 1981 and holds the single-game mark of 44 points, set against North Carolina State in 1978. He ranks 13th in career points (1,607), according to the school's website.

Graham said his ceremony had been originally planned for Jan. 11 and now appears to be Jan. 15 — a Sunday afternoon game against Georgia Tech.

In recent years, Graham has waged a campaign to steer kids away from the drug temptations that he says he once could not avoid. He said he has been clean for more than 16 years.

"I'm pretty excited," Graham said of the Comcast Center honor that he had long hoped for. "I honestly did not think it would happen."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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