After covering Gary Williams for the last four seasons (and, basically, a couple seasons after the turn of the century while still in school), it’s safe to say these two things are true about the man:
1) He will not engage in an extensive ranking and comparison of his players and teams.
2) Despite that, there are certain players whose mere mention generates a look of admiration, respect and appreciation.
Johnny Rhodes is unquestionably one of those guys.
Rhodes is not the best guard in Maryland history. He might, however, be the best player to come through the program without having his jersey honored (as has been written here before, Adrian Branch has a claim to that as well).
He is also what you could now call a fantasy basketball owner’s dream – a do-it-all player who was really, really good at just about everything.
Well, maybe not free throw shooting (60 percent for his career). But in just about every other measure, Rhodes’ contributions stack up exceptionally well.
He was an incredible defender, averaging 2.8 steals for his career. Not only are his 344 steals an ACC record, his 3.7-steal average a senior is light years ahead of anyone else who has come through the conference.
Rhodes was a rugged rebounder, averaging at least five a game in each of his four seasons. Not bad for a 6-foot-4 guy.
While not the top ballhandler on his teams (that would have been Duane Simpkins), he managed at least 90 assists each season. At ninth in school history, Rhodes ranks higher than any non-point guard in the category.
And Rhodes could score. A lot. Not too much (his career-high was 30 points against Kentucky). But the man was steady, finishing with 1,743 points – also ninth on Maryland’s career list.
There was little more that could be asked of Rhodes, who was also the one member of Williams’ class of ‘96 that got demonstrably better as a senior.
Rhodes never played in the NBA (one of only three of the top 18 players on this list who have departed Maryland that didn’t get a look in the association), and perhaps that skews the perception of what a superlative all-around performer he was.
But his toughness and tenacity should not be understated. On defense alone, he’d be a top-15 player. Toss in the steadiness at shooting guard – particularly his last two seasons – and Rhodes did more than enough to earn a top-10 nod.
Not to mention his coach’s respect.
* 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
* No. 11: Laron Profit
* No. 10: Terence Morris
* No. 9: Greivis Vasquez
* No. 8: Steve Francis