Soon after Lefty Driesell was offered the head coaching job for the University of Maryland’s basketball team in 1969, the Terps became a prominent basketball program by producing stars at the collegiate level and contending for a championship each year. Driesell led the Terps to two Elite Eights and an NIT championship before resigning due to controversy over Len Bias’ death and the manner in which the school’s athletic department handled its athletes.
Three years after Driesell resigned, Gary Williams took helm for the Terps, leading the school to its first Final Four in 2001 and then its first and only national championship in 2002. Driesell and Williams both developed a number of All-Americans during their coaching careers, some of whom went on to have memorable professional careers. Those athletes cemented their legacies as Terps, some contributing to the upsurge of Maryland as a preferential basketball school. Others resurrected the program after it faced great adversity, delivering plentiful tournament success. I list the top ten best players in school history below.
1. Juan Dixon (1998-2002)
The leader of Maryland’s 2002 national championship team, Dixon is the all-time leading scorer at College Park with 2,269 points. Throughout his 4-year tenure as a Terp, Dixon played in two Final Fours and was a two-time All-American.
Dixon was a versatile scorer with the ability to create his own shot both near the basket and beyond the arc. Dixon holds the record for the most three-pointers in school history (239) as well as shooting a remarkable 85 percent from the free throw line.
Dixon was a facilitator on defense, too, thriving as one of the country’s best perimeter defenders in 2002. His 333 career steals is good for the second most in school history.
2. Len Bias (1982-1986)
Arguably the most athletic player in school history, Bias was named ACC player of the year twice and was a first-team All-American his senior season.
Bias is the Terps’ third all-time leading scorer, thriving at attacking the basket and scoring in the paint. Bias’ aggressiveness allowed him to get to the free throw line often, connecting on the second most free throws in school history (470).
Bias’ 2,149 points stood as the school’s record for 16 years before being broken by Dixon.
3. Greivis Vasquez (2006-2010)
With an aggressive play style and a versatile offensive skill set; Vasquez is the Terps’ second all-time leading scorer with 2,171 points. Vasquez’s 230 three-pointers ranks him a spot below Dixon in most three-pointers made.
In addition to his scoring ability, Vasquez facilitated the offense, racking up 772 assists during his Terps’ career, the second most in school history.
During his senior season, Vasquez was named ACC Player of the year and was presented the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s best point guard.
4. Joe Smith (1993-1995)
The only player to win the Naismith College Player of the Year Award in school history, Smith was one of the most talented Terps ever during his two-year stint.
Smith averaged 20.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game as a Terp, both of which rank in the top three in school history.
Smith’s prevalence helped revitalize the Terps’ basketball program after Bias’ death, and he went on to be the number one selection in the NBA Draft.
5. Tom McMillen (1971-1974)
With a versatile offensive skillset and a high basketball IQ, McMillen lead the Terps to their first and only NIT championship in 1972 (before the NCAA Tournament expanded to 32 teams). McMillen’s career average of 20.5 points per game tops the scoring average rankings at Maryland. McMillen scored efficiently, shooting 56 percent from the field.
Through his career as a Terp, McMillen nearly averaged a double-double, averaging 9.8 rebounds per game.
6. John Lucas (1972-1976)
As a combo guard, Lucas both ran the offense and was an athletic scorer for the Terps. Lucas ranks sixth in points scored (2,015) and fifth in assists (514) in school history.
Lucas led the Terps to their first two Elite Eights in school history. He was named to the All-ACC team in all but his freshman season and was named a first team All-American twice.
7. Len Elmore (1971-1974)
As a dominant rebounder with great defensive and rebounding skills, Elmore is the best center in Terps’ history.
Elmore is the all-time leading rebounder in school history, pulling down 1,053 boards during his career.
Elmore joined McMillen in the backcourt during the 1973-1974 season, a team that is believed to be one of the greatest ever to not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
8. Albert King (1977-1981)
The aggressive and versatile play style of King led him to become the fourth-highest scorer in school history with 2,058 points. Also, King’s 862 made field goals is tied with Lucas as the most in school history.
King was honored as ACC player of the year and as an All-American in 1980.
9. Steve Blake (1999-2003)
Blake joined Dixon in arguably the best backcourt in the country for both the 2002 national championship and the 2001 Final Four. He was a great passer with a deadly jump shot.
Blake is the best “pure” point guard to ever wear a Terps’ jersey. His 972 assists is the most in school history and is the sixth-most ever in Division-1 basketball.
Complementing Dixon’s shooting touch, Blake connected on 182 three-pointers as a Terp and was known for his clutch shooting.
Blake is sixth all-time in steals in school history with 234. He was the first ACC player to rack up 1,000 points, 800 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals.
10. Walt Williams (1988-1992)
Despite the school being placed on probation, Williams remained a Terp and had a remarkable 4-year career.
Williams was a versatile player on both ends of the court, racking up 410 assists and 175 steals in College Park. However, Williams was best known for his adept scoring ability.
Williams scored 1,704 points as a Terp, and averaged 26.8 points per game his senior season, leading him to be named an All-American.
Honorable Mention: Buck Williams (1978-1981)
Williams averaged 10.9 rebounds per game and shot a school record 62 percent from the field during his three-year stint with the Terps.