Maryland men’s basketball forward Joshua Tomaic stood with graduate assistant Jamal Gross and answered questions across the street from H.J. Patterson Hall on Feb. 20. The Canary Island native discussed how he’s adapted to college basketball and explained his role on the team as a redshirt.
“If you think you’re physical right now,” Tomaic said. “I’m telling you you’re not.”
Surrounding him were some familiar faces from Tomaic’s past. There were coaches and players from the Canarias Basketball Academy, Tomaic’s former team, who were on a weeklong trip traveling down the East Coast. They had stopped in College Park for the final few days, eager to hear about Tomaic’s experiences playing in America.
“Maryland is a great college, a huge college, and he deserved it because he worked hard every day, and he’s still working hard every day to prove himself,” Jardin Van Der Korput, one of CBA’s players, said. “He’s just a great guy, and it all began at CBA.”
Before arriving in College Park, Tomaic averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds for CBA’s U18 squad, which placed fifth in Spain’s national championships. In June, Tomaic signed his national letter of intent for Maryland. He joined top-100 recruits Kevin Huerter, Anthony Cowan and Justin Jackson, according to 247sports.com.
Center Michal Cekovsky also played with CBA, located off the coast of Spain, before joining Maryland, though many pundits labeled the Slovakian native as a four-star recruit.
Tomaic, meanwhile, became the first Canary Islands-born player to sign with a top-25 Division I program.
“Oh my God, it’s a great inspiration,” said CBA founder Rob Orellana, who coached Tomaic for three years. “Joshua was just like them a year ago, two years ago, three years ago when we had him. He’s a great inspiration for the guys that we have now.”
After spending President’s Day in Washington, Orellana and the group got to watch Tomaic practice. They saw the 6-foot-9, 220-pound big man compete down low against center Damonte Dodd and forward Ivan Bender.
Tomaic’s body frame surprised Orellana, who hadn’t seen his former player since July. He knew Tomaic had a tireless work ethic but “never imagined” he’d make that type of physical transformation less than a year into his college career.
Van Der Korput said Orellana talks about Tomaic “almost every day.” At first, Van Der Korput heard Tomaic was “really bad.” Now, he’s a part of a program slated to make its third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
A day after attending practice, they watched Maryland host Minnesota on Feb. 22.
“It’s really inspiring because I’m where he was,” Van der Korput said, “and I really want to be at a really great college as well.”
The CBA players played in front of Tomaic during a few pick-up games against high school teams. They all went to dinner at Mission BBQ.
Those experiences reminded Tomaic about his time at CBA, when he looked up to former teammates who went on to play at Division I programs. He used to be workout partners with forward Issa Thiam, who’s a freshman at Rutgers. His ambition rubbed off on Tomaic.
A year later, younger players want to train like him. Tomaic’s become one of those role models.
“It was pretty special,” Tomaic said. “I was really happy … to show them around and what it’s like to be here at Maryland.”
Senior staff writer Kyle Melnick contributed to this story.