(Belatedly wrapping up Maryland season in review)
Eventually, probably some time next season, Greivis Vasquez will roll back into College Park for a big jersey honoring ceremony. It will be the rightful conclusion to a brilliant career filled with both jaw-dropping and lightning rod moments.
Yet in assessing Vasquez's final season --- an unqualified success, since he won the Bob Cousy Award, was named the ACC's player of the year and led Maryland to a share of the ACC regular season title --- it is important to remember how much of the former and how little of the latter was on display.
For as great as Vasquez's senior season, it wasn't exactly riddled with angst. His game did more than enough talking on its own, so much so that Vasquez remained on his best behavior whenever the media was within earshot nearly all the time.
Then again, why not?
He emerged from the NBA Draft examination process wise and more mature if not also more weary for his trouble. His scoring was absent for a couple weeks, a bit of self-induced pressure the culprit.
Eventually, though, things went as they were supposed to for a veteran guard who was supposed to be one of the ACC's best players.
He scored at least 20 points in seven straight games as December turned into January, the first Maryland player to pull that off since Walt Williams in 1992.
He tossed up a 23-7-7 line at Florida State amidst perhaps the most venomous taunting of his career, then scored 26 points and added 11 assists in a beatdown of North Carolina.
There was a 25-point half against Virginia, a 41-point game against Virginia Tech. He dropped 10 points in the last two minutes of his final game, only to be outdone by Michigan State's Korie Lucious.
Afterward, Vasquez carried himself with a certain serenity as his teammates covered their heads and looked for answers.
He knew what happened. He'd made a great play. The other guy just made one a little bit greater.
Yes, it was an anticlimax for his career. He never did get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, let alone lead Maryland to the Final Four he spoke of almost from the minute he arrived in College Park.
Nonetheless, Vasquez's last season possessed some transformational properties. For much of his first three years, he was a polarizing figure for his own fanbase for reasons that sometimes defied logic.
Sure, he'd cursed at some fans in the student section during a game as a junior. And his shot selection as a sophomore was not particularly encouraging, especially as the season wore on.
But he was Maryland's best player in his final three seasons --- by a bit over James Gist in 2008, by a lot over everyone else a year later. The disdain and frustration never made much sense, in large part because the Terps would have been vastly worse off without him.
Perhaps the flirtation with the NBA made both sides --- Vasquez and the fans --- learn to appreciate each other a little more. It was a foregone conclusion Maryland would not be contending for an ACC title without Vasquez, and in retrospect there's no reason to make the case. Meanwhile, Vasquez relaxed with a more appreciative audience, and he had to know he wouldn't receive nearly as much adulation playing professionally as he would as the focal point in College Park.
And so in addition to finishing second on Maryland's career scoring (2,171) and assists (772) lists, he fully made his peace with Maryland's fanbase --- and then some.
Had Vasquez bolted after his junior season, he would have left an incomplete legacy behind. Instead, he rates as one of the best guards to don a Terrapins jersey.
When running down the top 20 players of the Gary Williams era last summer, I had Vasquez pegged at No. 9. His splendid senior year vaults him into the top four.
It's Vasquez, Walt Williams, Joe Smith and Juan Dixon, in whatever order you'd care to select. Vasquez earned his place in that discussion this past season, and it's that --- along with a handful of dominant performances --- that he'll best be remembered for at Maryland.