Continued from page 2

“I don’t know how many people would call out a basketball player,” Fuller says. “But walking around campus with him sometimes and you’ll just hear ‘Boom,’ and he’ll be like, ‘Hey, what’s up, man.’ He’ll say, ‘I don’t know who that was, but whatever.’ I feel like there’s not as much intimidation.”

Nor is there a disconnect from Osby’s humanity. His quirks are genuine, the offshoots of his personality, not a contrived shtick designed to attract attention.

And that only adds authenticity to any Boom-related tale.

“One of my friends had seen him in his ‘62 last year, and his windshield wipers were broken,” Fuller says. “So she saw him from her apartment and said, ‘I think I saw Boom squeegeeing his windshield [as he was driving] because it’s raining and he doesn’t have windshield wipers.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, probably.’ ”

Boom stops at the student union, and Fuller departs. The ride continues as Boom loops around the business school.

From time to time, someone stares in an attempt to identify the large car and its owner. A few days earlier, Osby was greeted by a student who was barely recognizable in his non-gameday outfit.

“He’s the Boom fan of all time,” Osby says. “He has the wig. He has the shirt. He has the cape. If I was a short white kid, that’s what I would look like. I’m telling you, that’s me.”

Boom continues his campus cruise amid some glances. He is a bit confused when it is suggested his interaction with fans is unusual. As he views things, it should be the norm.

“The people who sit and watch you every night and subscribe to you and get season tickets, you don’t ever see those people,” Boom says. “So when they come up to you and see you in the street and say, ‘Hey, what’s up man?’ it’s almost like a returned favor. They do so much for you getting the game sold out, new stadium, new gym, real good home atmosphere that the least you can do is say hi to them. You can really make people’s day.”

•••

Osby is hungry and wants to visit the Ellicott Diner. But first he must contend with a treacherous foe — parallel parking.

“These spots are just perilous, man,” Osby says when it becomes clear his Caddy won’t wedge between two cars. “Just crazy.”

For two years, the same could be said of his career. He bounced from New Mexico to Paris (Texas) Junior College and then to Maryland.

Osby revisits those days with some prodding but is clearly relieved he landed in College Park. He averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds as a junior and is expected to start this year.

“Everything is just a blast. Especially coming from New Mexico and my coach hated me. and I was in junior college and my coach hated me,” Osby says. “Being here and being free and relaxed and just being able to focus on basketball and school, it’s just great, man.”

Story Continues →