COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez, who led the team in scoring, rebounding and assists last season, said Monday that he has opted to return for his senior season.
The decision means Vasquez, who spent the past month performing workouts and drills for NBA teams, has withdrawn his name from the June 25 NBA draft.
Coach Gary Williams met with Vasquez on Monday afternoon in the coach's Comcast Center office. Vasquez left after the meeting was over, then returned a short while later and enthusiastically shook hands with the coach he has often defended. "Love you so much, man," a smiling Vasquez told Williams.
With the 6-foot-5 Vasquez back, Maryland has all its starters returning except the graduated Dave Neal. The Terps will blend the backcourt experience of Vasquez and fellow guard Eric Hayes - who will also be a senior - with new inside players James Padgett and Jordan Williams and returning forward Landon Milbourne.
Vasquez, however, won't be paired with Lance Stephenson, the highly touted, 6-foot-5 McDonald's All-American from Brooklyn, N.Y. Two sources with knowledge of Maryland's efforts, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Monday that the school no longer is recruiting Stephenson, who has had off-the-court issues.
Vasquez's main assets are his size and ability to penetrate and rebound. He has struggled at times with his three-point shooting (32.7 percent for the season) and his defense. Williams said Vasquez has been working on improving his game, particularly the consistency of his shooting.
Williams said he would have been prepared for Vasquez's departure had the guard been expected to be among the top 20 NBA draft choices. That, apparently, was not the case. Most draft analysts had Vasquez going in the second round.
But Williams said the process - in which Vasquez scrimmaged with many of the nation's top college players - aided the player's development.
"I think he got a chance to really show how good a player he really is," Williams said. "He was able to get his message across. I think he'll be a top-20 player next year."
Hayes said Vasquez's decision further brightens the outlook for next season.
"We have a chance to have a really good season," Hayes said.
Maryland relied last season on Vasquez's offense. He became the sixth player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to lead his team in scoring, rebounding and assists as Maryland advanced into the NCAA tournament's second round.
The fiery Vasquez, who often gets motivated by jawing with fans during games, staunchly defended Williams last season when the coach was criticized in the media during a down period when it appeared the team might miss the NCAA tournament.
Maryland said Vasquez was not available Monday for interviews.
In a prepared statement, Vasquez said: "It has always been a goal of mine to graduate from the University of Maryland and earn my degree. When I signed a scholarship to come to Maryland, I promised my family back home in Venezuela that I would graduate, and doing so in four years here at Maryland will be a great achievement."