The Washington Times - June 22, 2009, 06:35PM

Time for a little Maryland basketball word association game (and feel free to e-mail me your word or two to describe each of these players):

Joe Smith? Dominant.

SEE RELATED:


Juan Dixon? Prolific.

Greivis Vasquez? Unpredictable.

Steve Francis? Dunk.

Keith Booth? Relentless.

OK, now a tough one.

Laron Profit?

Um … consistent? Bouncy? Upside? Ideal fit?

Profit, of course, was one of the superlative athletes that Maryland coach Gary Williams recruited to restock his roster after his first wave of stars departed.

Profit was always athletic. And he tossed up the numbers to demonstrate he was a more-than-capable player.

He was twice a third-team all-conference choice, another time an honorable mention selection. But he was good at just about everything, and he was good at it for all three of his seasons as a starter.

Profit averaged at least 12.9 points in each of his final three years, to go along with at least 4.8 rebounds. There was usually a requisite highlight to go with it, such was Profit’s ability to mix in an impressive dunk or an occasional jumper.

Oh, and, you know, a 3-pointer to beat Wake Forest on the road in Tim Duncan’s senior season.

So Profit was really solid. The question it would seem fair to ask is whether he could have been better.

Maybe. He could have been a better foul shooter, could have been less prone to turnovers.

But one of the reasons he occupies a space between the best of the Williams era and a group of guys who for whatever reason didn’t enjoy as complete a career as Profit did is simple – he didn’t collect that huge payoff season at the end.

For good reason. Profit went from the top option as a junior to a slightly less prominent spot as a senior when Francis joined the program. Toss on Terence Morris‘ brilliant sophomore year, and Profit just didn’t have a chance for that 18-and-6 season to close things out.

He didn’t go out with a whimper, rolling up solid numbers on a deep team that reached the regional semis (and probably should have gone further). Profit was skilled enough to earn a second-round NBA nod and wound up toiling in the NBA for a handful of seasons.

His stats also hold up well, with a top-20 spot in points (14th), steals (third), blocks (tied for 20th) and 3-pointers made (17th) on several career lists.

Profit never was a fit on the Smith/Dixon/Walt Williams plane of excellence, but there’s something to be said for performing well from beginning to end. And while it still isn’t entirely easy to come up with a single word to encapsulate Profit’s career, “really, really good” will have to suffice as an adequate description for now.

Previously:

* No. 20: Exree Hipp
* No. 19: James Gist
* No. 18: Obinna Ekezie
* No. 17: Evers Burns
* No. 16: D.J. Strawberry
* No. 15: Drew Nicholas
* No. 14: Tony Massenburg
* The Next 10
* No. 13: Chris Wilcox
* No. 12: John Gilchrist

Patrick Stevens