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Terps

Books, not just basketball, at core of former Maryland star Greivis Vásquez's charity work

Maryland fans remember Greivis Vásquez as a confident, emotional leader and as a talented point guard who nearly carried the Terps to the Sweet 16 as a senior — almost single-handedly. They remember the big shots he hit and the way he shimmied his shoulders after many of them.

Yet, when Vásquez arrived in College Park as a freshman in the fall of 2006, after coming from his native Venezuela two years before to attend Montrose Christian in Rockville, he was still trying to get comfortable with the language and adapt to American culture.

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While fellow freshmen Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne were taking regular college-level classes to gain credit toward a degree, Vásquez was in a program with other international students hoping to gain proficiency in English in order to take those classes.

“It was tough, it was really tough,” Vásquez recalled in a phone interview Friday. “My teammates used to go back and talk about how cool the regular college life was. When you’re taking English as a second language, it’s like you’re at a different school.”

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Said Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams, "I always think about the kids who come from a tough situation, and they should just look at Greivis. He came from as tough a situation as anybody else and yet he made it academically, he made it basketball-wise.”

Vásquez grew to where he won Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard as a senior, and left Maryland second only to Juan Dixon in points scored and 3-pointers made, as well as second to Steve Blake in career assists.

Just as important to Vásquez is the fact that he left Maryland with his degree.

“I'm extremely proud, I’m extremely grateful to the University of Maryland for giving me the platform and the support that I had when I was there,” he said. “Right now, the effort, the sacrifice, it paid off. I got my degree. I can do so many different things with my education.”