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The Big Twenty: Maryland men's basketball wins the national championship

The Big Twenty: Maryland men's basketball wins the national championship

NBC Sports Washington is rolling out the 20 biggest stories in DMV sports in the past 20 years. Here is No. 4.

Maryland’s men’s basketball team won the NCAA national championship in 2002, which fits nicely into the 20-year window of NBC Sports Washington’s The Big Twenty project.

But to understand how important that accomplishment is, you need to go outside that window to 1990. For multiple violations under then-head coach Bob Wade, Maryland was placed on three-year probation, banned from the postseason for two years and barred from appearing on television during the 1991-1992 season. The program, fresh off the tragedy of Len Bias’ death in 1986, had hit rock bottom.

Enter Gary Williams. The Maryland alum returned to College Park in 1989, unsure of what punishments were coming. His task: Build Maryland into a nationally competitive program while dealing with Duke, North Carolina and the rest of the ACC blue bloods, all while handcuffed by major sanctions. You know, no big deal.

Build the program he did. By 1994, the Terrapins were back in the NCAA Tournament and the Sweet 16. By 1998, Williams had the Terps as high as No. 2 in the AP poll. And just when the fanbase thought the program had plateaued, in 2001 Williams guided Maryland to its first Final Four appearance.

The loss to Duke in that year’s NCAA semifinal was a bitter pill, but Williams had almost his entire roster returning. That included a starting lineup of Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Steve Blake, Chris Wilcox and Byron Mouton. Most of them had been overlooked in high school. All had been passed over by other power conference schools for varying reasons. Williams built his program around these diamond-in-the-rough, chip-on-the-shoulder players with something to prove. His roster was full of them in 2002. It was a perfect fit at Maryland, a program constantly ignored in the rugged, tradition-rich ACC.

Maryland ran through its 2001-2002 schedule with ease. With a balanced lineup and a rock-solid eight-man rotation, the Terps went 15-1 in the ACC. That included an 87-73 blitz of No. 1-ranked Duke in February. They earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Maryland beat a UConn team with Ben Gordon, Caron Butler and Emeka Okafor in the Elite Eight to make its second straight Final Four. A week later, it knocked off Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison and Kansas to make the title game.

On April 1st, 2002, the Terrapins beat Indiana, 64-52, to claim the school’s first national championship. Dixon led the way with 18 points and keyed a 22-8 second-half run to put the Hoosiers away. He earned first-team All-America honors. His retired jersey currently hangs in Xfinity Center. Williams was named ACC Coach of the Year. The floor of Xfinity Center is now Gary Williams Court.

The lasting image of the title game is Dixon heaving the ball to the Georgia Dome rafters as the last seconds ticked off and his teammates celebrated. For Dixon, the championship was the final
highlight of a record-setting career in College Park.

For Williams, it was validation. He had built the team his way, with players in his image. For the program, it was the concluding step of a journey that started in 1990.

Maryland had climbed out of the deepest valley to reach college basketball’s highest peak.

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Top 40 recruit Shyanne Sellers commits to Maryland

Top 40 recruit Shyanne Sellers commits to Maryland

Sunday afternoon was very exciting for the Terps women’s basketball team.

Top 40 recruit Shyanne Sellers announced on Twitter that she has committed to The University of Maryland. 

“First of all, I would like to thank my parents, Coach Carlos, Smac family, and all the coaches that have recruited me throughout the years, without them I would not be in the position I am in today. Lastly, would like to thank Coach Frese and the whole Maryland staff for giving me this amazing opportunity to continue playing the game that I love. I am excited to announce that I have decided to further my academic and athletic career to The University of Maryland, Go Terps!” Sellers wrote on Twitter. 

Sellers is the first commitment in the 2021 recruiting class. 

The 6'0 guard is ranked by ESPN as the No. 34 player in the 2021 class and No. 12 player from the state of Ohio.

This past season as a junior at Aurora High School in Aurora, Ohio Sellers averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, 2.3 steals and two blocks.

Her father Brad Sellers played at Ohio State and was selected as a first round draft pick by the Chicago Bulls. As a member of the Bulls he has the opportunity to play alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. 

Her father took to Twitter to express how proud his is of his daughter. 

"Today, I want to say how proud of my daughter Shyanne Sellers and her verbal commitment to attend and play b-ball for the University of Maryland. We all are very thankful for the opportunity that she has been given! From rec league in Aurora, to SMAC Ballers, and now the Big 10!" he wrote on Twitter. 

Brad Sellers currently serves as the three-time mayor of  Warrensville Heights, Ohio.

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Report: Yale grad transfer Jordan Bruner considering Maryland among final three

Report: Yale grad transfer Jordan Bruner considering Maryland among final three

With the Terps facing the potential losses of two key scorers to the NBA Draft, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Yale is considering joining the Maryland roster for his final season of NCAA eligibility.

According to Evan Daniels of 247Sports, Bulldogs power forward Jordan Bruner has narrowed down his list of preferred transfer destinations to Maryland, Alabama and Baylor. ESPN ranked Bruner the third-best graduate transfer in the country following a season in which he led the Ivy League with 9.2 rebounds per game to go with 10.9 points and 3.7 assists.

The Terps are expected to lose Anthony Cowan Jr. (graduating) and Jalen Smith (NBA Draft) after claiming their first share of the Big 10 regular-season title in program history this season. Forward Ricky Lindo Jr. also entered the transfer portal. Smith started 30 games as a forward and led UMD with 10.5 rebounds per game.

Bruner originally declared for the NBA Draft on March 13 but reconsidered his position after the coronavirus pandemic put the sports world at a standstill. Five days after announcing his intent to go pro, he put his name in the transfer portal.

Per the Yale Daily News, Bruner received calls from 25 different programs within three hours of having his name in the portal. He reportedly trimmed his original list of 50 schools down to six—Maryland, Arkansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, Alabama and Louisville—before narrowing it down to the three Tuesday.

Injuries hit Bruner hard throughout his Yale career, including two meniscus tears—one of which forced him to miss all of his sophomore season. However, the 2020 All-Ivy First Team selection finally stayed healthy this year and only sat two games due to injury.

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