SE­NIOR STO­RIES

Mosley, Dil­lard, Weijs each take unique path to final game at home

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY PA­TRICK STEVENS

There’s a nat­u­ral or­der to things in col­lege sports. A group of play­ers come in to­gether, a few might be peeled off in the en­su­ing four years, and in the end they take their place in a pre-game cer­e­mony be­fore their final home game.

Se­nior Night ties ev­ery­thing to­gether for teammates who en­dured plenty in pur­suit of a com­mon goal. It is a shared junc­ture on a long jour­ney.

For the three se­niors who will don a Mary­land uni­form for the final time at Com­cast Cen­ter on Sun­day, the cel­e­bra­tion will am­plify the strik­ingly dif­fer­ent paths they each took to ar­rive at that mo­ment. On many teams, post­sea­son ap­pear­ances or shared hard­ships as fresh­men thread a grad­u­at­ing class to­gether.

For the Ter­rap­ins (16-13, 6-9 ACC), it is quite the op­po­site. It is an un­con­ven­tional group of three men who will share the stage on one af­ter­noon in March.

The four-year player

As­sum­ing he’s phys­i­cally able — al­most a univer­sal cer­tainty, given his track record — Sean Mosley

will play his 130th ca­reer game Sun­day. He will com­plete his fourth and final home sched­ule. He will be the last player in­tro­duced dur­ing warmups.

He is part of the ac­tion, of course, but he’s also part of the back­ground. Mosley fit in from the start, with an old-school hair­cut and an old-soul game. Lit­tle won­der it feels like he is, well, old as his col­lege ca­reer winds down.

Or at least older than he ac­tu­ally is.

“A lot of peo­ple think I was here for five or six years,” Mosley said. “I don’t know why. They have that in the back of their mind. Maybe be­cause I was start­ing as a fresh­man and made an im­pact right away, guys prob­a­bly thought I sat out a year and played.”

Nope. He just played from the start. He missed one game as a sopho­more be­cause of a sprained an­kle. But aside from that, he was al­ways part of the ta­pes­try.

It was al­ways a good fit, even if his pro­duc­tion rose and fell over time. Here was the in-state guy who grew up watch­ing lo­cal tele­vi­sion as Keith Booth and Juan Dixon played for Gary Wil­liams, an old-school coach if there ever was one. De­spite in­ter­est from Syra­cuse, the Bal­ti­more prod­uct de­cided to stay close to home.

Mile­stones came and went. So, too, did Wil­liams, re­tir­ing af­ter last sea­son. Mark Tur­geon came in, and Mosley was the in­valu­able bridge be­tween gen­er­a­tions.

“Each year we added a cou­ple guys or lost a cou­ple guys, but each year I felt as though we were a fam­ily, and that’s the most im­por­tant thing for me com­ing from a closeknit fam­ily back in Bal­ti­more,” Mosley said.

In the process, he carved out his own place, ever-re­li­able and om­nipresent for what felt like for­ever but was re­ally just a nor­mal ca­reer.

“I was truly blessed,” said Mosley, who has 1,070 ca­reer points. “Time flies once you’re hav­ing fun in col­lege and win­ning a lot of games. Four years went past so fast, it felt like I’ve been here for two or three years.”

Then he paused, the punch line set up per­fectly.

“Some peo­ple feel as though as I’ve been here longer,” he said as laugh­ter echoed through the hall­way and his last go-round came a bit closer to its con­clu­sion.

The walk-on

Jon Dil­lard played bas­ket­ball his first three years at Mary­land. It just wasn’t for the team oc­cu­py­ing the big­gest gym on cam­pus.

The school’s club team wasn’t ex­actly the ACC, but Dil­lard was close with his teammates. They logged latenight prac­tices at Ritchie Coli­seum, a hit-or-miss ven­ture vul­ner­a­ble to can­cel­la­tions when events oc­cu­pied the old build­ing’s bas­ket­ball court.

No mat­ter. He wanted an ed­u­ca­tion, ma­jor­ing in ki­ne­si­ol­ogy at a strong school. It’s why he chose Mary­land in­stead of chas­ing looks at Di­vi­sion III schools.

All the while, he never heard about walk-on try­outs. An op­por­tu­nity for var­sity play just wasn’t there.

“It was al­ways in the back of my head,” Dil­lard said.

It be­came a more tan­gi­ble goal when Tur­geon was hired last year and said the Terps would add sev­eral walk-ons. So Dil­lard spent the sum­mer work­ing out and lift­ing weights, pre­par­ing for his one chance.

Many of his club teammates also tried out. Of the bunch, Dil­lard made it. His old bud­dies came to Mary­land games all sea­son, cheer­ing on Dil­lard de­spite spo­radic play­ing time.

The York­town, Va., na­tive has ap­peared for all of six min­utes so far, scor­ing his only two ca­reer points in a loss at Virginia. He also plays sev­eral guard po­si­tions for Mary­land’s scout team.

It might not seem like much, but it has meant a mon­u­men­tal change in Dil­lard’s life. He re­mem­bers a time in high school when he vis­ited Col­lege Park on the school’s Mary­land Day open house and had his picture taken with Greivis Vasquez.

“Now, I’m walk­ing around cam­pus as a se­nior shak­ing hands with him and talk­ing of­fense and de­fense with Greivis in a res­tau­rant,” Dil­lard said. “He pulled me aside [at Noo­dle’s] and said ‘Lis­ten.’ We’re just talk­ing bas­ket­ball. It’s a huge leap.”

Dil­lard glanced around the hall­way out­side the Mary­land locker room, where the pro jer­seys of alums cur­rently in the NBA are dis­played. He steps back and thinks about what he’s be­come a part of from time to time, soak­ing in the sit­u­a­tion per­haps more than most would.

Bas­ket­ball pushed back grad­u­a­tion a se­mes­ter as well as the process of ap­ply­ing to med­i­cal and phys­i­cal ther­apy schools. It’s a mod­est price for a sin­gle sea­son spent in the big­gest gym on cam­pus.

“It’s meant ev­ery­thing to me,” Dil­lard said. “This has been, by far, one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my life.” VIRGINIA AT MARY­LAND Sun­day: TV: Ra­dio:

The in­ter­na­tional

Ask a Di­vi­sion I bas­ket­ball player why he’s in col­lege, and two an­swers of­ten emerge: to get an ed­u­ca­tion and to pre­pare for a ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional ath­lete, though not al­ways in that or­der.

Then there’s the case of Berend Weijs, the Nether­lands na­tive by way of a ju­nior col­lege who will soon wrap up his two-year stint with the Terps.

“My dad made me,” he said sim­ply.

Weijs was not fond of school, even be­fore his stint in a six-year high school was ex­tended 12 months when he failed final ex­ams. (In his de­fense, his grand­fa­ther died dur­ing the test­ing pe­riod.) At age 19, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.

He know he didn’t want to study. His fa­ther op­er­ated a hard­wood door fac­tory, and Weijs fig­ured he could al­ways get a job there. His dad didn’t agree. An ap­par­ent stale­mate emerged.

“So he said ‘I want you to study,’ “Weijs said. “And I said ‘If you find some­thing for me that’s in­ter­est­ing, I will agree with that.’ “

And so Ernst Weijs got to work. He called an old friend, who knew some­one at Har­cum Col­lege, a twoyear school not far from Di­vi­sion I pow­er­house Vil­lanova. Within three weeks, Weijs (armed with pass­able but hardly pro­fi­cient English) was on a trans-at­lantic flight to Philadel­phia.

“I thought he was not go­ing to find any­thing,” Weijs said. “I gave my dad a chal­lenge and he gave me a chal­lenge. We like to chal­lenge each other some­times.”

At 6-foot-10, Weijs was a valu­able as­set for a ju­nior col­lege. But he found some­thing else en­joy­able about this ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence: Much of the class­work repli­cated what he’d al­ready com­pleted in the Nether­lands, and Weijs earned ju­nior col­lege aca­demic All-amer­ica honors.

A Har­cum team­mate brought him to Col­lege Park for pickup games two years ago, and word of the af­fa­ble big man even­tu­ally trick­led into Mary­land’s bas­ket­ball of­fice. Af­ter ini­tially draw­ing in­ter­est from schools such as Hamp­ton, Long­wood and New Hamp­shire, Weijs signed with the Terps.

Four years af­ter the dare with his dad about his fu­ture, Weijs is about to earn a de­gree he fig­ured he would never have. He has played in ev­ery game as a se­nior, av­er­ag­ing 2.0 points and 11.6 min­utes.

And while his path con­verges with Dil­lard and Mosley on Sun­day, he’s al­ready look­ing ahead. He still isn’t sure what’s next, but he knows he has enough friends along the East Coast that he’ll al­ways have a place to stay when he’s in the States.

“I’m hav­ing a great time,” Weijs said. “It turned out re­ally good. For me, I think this might be one of my best im­pul­sive de­ci­sions ever.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

THE IN­TER­NA­TIONAL: Cen­ter Berend Weijs of the Nether­lands says he came to the U.S. for school be­cause “My dad made me.” He will leave with a col­lege de­gree.

UNIVER­SITY OF MARY­LAND ATH­LET­ICS

THE WALK-ON: Jon Dil­lard was a club player be­fore mak­ing the Terps.

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