Berend Weijs is, by his own admission, quick for a big guy.
The forward, a junior college transfer, will have a chance to show that off tonight at Maryland/Midnight Madness. But less than a month ago, he completed a 5K race in 21:12 --- just two seconds off Greivis Vasquez's time in the same event a year ago.
"To be honest, I could have made it under 21," Weijs said. "At the end, I didn't know the time. I didn't have a stopwatch. I didn't know what time it is. I came in and they're like, 'Yeah, you were two seconds behind Greivis.' That's too bad. I could have got it."
That's OK. He'll settle for being at Maryland after a whirlwind courtship.
Weijs averaged 6.1 points and 5.6 rebounds at Harcum College just outside of Philadelphia, but also blocked 119 shots. Harcum teammate C.J. Scott, now an invited walk-on at Louisiana Tech, brought Weijs with him to a few pickup games at Comcast Center. Maryland's players took notice.
"I started playing pickup games with a friend of mine, without any intentions of 'Oh, I want to play at the University of Maryland,'" Weijs said. "Of course, I always wanted to play here while I played pickup. This arena is huge and then the players went to the coach and said 'This guy can play.'"
Weijs said a couple mid-majors were looking at him, but that he was most likely to wind up playing at NAIA school Northwood --- led by former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino --- before Maryland offered him late in the spring.
"It's a no-brainer," Weijs said of his choice.
No kidding --- for both sides.
Weijs got a high-profile home, and Maryland found an older player who could fill out the recruiting class. He effectively takes the place of chronically injured big man Steve Goins, who transferred to Troy and was rarely available to even practice the last couple season.
In short, if Weijs is merely an energetic presence every day, he'll be able to help. But if he turns into another junior college find --- much like Maryland has uncovered with the likes of Bambale Osby --- then he could be quite valuable.
"You get a 6-10 guy that can run and block some shots, there's not a lot of those guys around," coach Gary Williams said. "He has some stuff he has to do. He has to get stronger. But he's a good guy --- and a good guy to have in your program. ...
"There's no way to know what he's going to do. I know one thing: He'll be out here playing hard every day. That's all you want."
Weijs could wind up an interesting piece if Maryland not only wants to press more, but also stick with a larger lineup in the process. It's not guaranteed he will ultimately factor in, but at least it is a potential option.
"He runs the floor real well," guard Cliff Tucker said. "I think he'll help us out a lot this year in transition. I think he's faster than a lot of big men. He's playing well. He can rebound and can help us out on the boards. He has a little mid-range jumper, kind of a European game."
The greatest concern with Weijs will be his strength, which is obvious just from looking at him. The Netherlands native is listed at 200 pounds, which won't help much against beefier foes.
But as is his wont, Weijs rapidly offered a counterpoint to the issue.
"Of course, I'm going to play against guys who are 250 pounds --- huge, athletic," Weijs said. "I got to be smarter than them, and I have my quickness as an advantage."