Reflections of the Seniors: Landon Milbourne

4/1/2010 8:21:39 AM Landon Milbourne will always be seen as a tease for Maryland fans. He came on campus as a third wheel as Hayes and Vasquez received the hoopla of Maryland saviors. He scored only 16 points total as a freshman, but bought into Gary Williams’ system and worked his tail off in the weight room.

After that invisible freshman campaign, Milbourne managed to finish his career with 1,104 points, 472 rebounds and 99 blocks. Playing elsewhere, unfortunately for him, chances are he would have scored more points and have been drafted. He’s got a 37-inch vertical leap, a pure jumper, and has the timing and athleticism to make breathtaking dunks and game-changing swats.

Milbourne turned a sub-par freshman year into an excellent collegiate career. His jersey won’t be in the rafters, he never made a Sweet 16, he was never the general that Greivis was, and we won’t see him playing in the NBA soon. He threw down some incredible dunks, made some insane blocks, and developed a pretty jumper.

What will probably resonate most with me about him is his total dedication to his team. He could have devoted himself to preparing for an NBA career. He could have pouted when Gary Williams asked him to play down low, hiding his athleticism and skills that he’d practiced for years on the wing. He could have transferred, he could have had a bad attitude, he could have just quit.

He did none of these things. Despite being all of 6-7, only an inch taller than his point guard, and weighing a shade over 200 pounds, Milbourne sucked it up, sacrificed, and did what was necessary to help a team that had him, Dave Neal, and a deer-in-the-headlights Dino Gregory on the frontcourt. A team that recruited touted post prospects Braxton Dupree, Shane Walker and Gus Gilchrist just a year after the Georgian arrived on campus, pretty much ruling out the possibility of being so shallow just a year later.

More importantly than just stepping in and being a body that was more substantial than Jin-Soo Choi, Milbourne made it a point to be the absolute hardest worker imaginable. He set the tone in the weight room and in practice. During the year, all any of his teammates called him was a leader. He never demanded the spotlight, save for the roar he became known for in pregame ceremonies and post-awesomeness. He saved his attention grabbing for pushing Sean Mosley to work harder to strengthen his ankle, to make sure Jordan Williams stayed motivated to lose some of his baby fat.

No, history might not make Landon Milbourne a legend, or even close to one. But hopefully when Terps fans look back on the 2009-10 season, they remember more than Greivis’ incredible year and the emergence of Jordan Williams. I hope they remember that it was Milbourne who led them out of the tunnel every game at Comcast Center. It was Milbourne that brought the attitude of lifting after games to stay fresh during the team’s undefeated home ACC season. Mostly though, I just hope they remember him.
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