Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Name: Dezmine Wells
Weight: 215 lbs
Jersey #: 32
High School: Hargrave Military Academy
As A Recruit: 4-star by 247Sports.com, 64th ranked player in class of 2010
90’s Hip-Hop Comparison: Mobb Deep, “Shook Ones Pt. II”
Career Highlight: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists in a win over then-ranked #2 Duke in the ACC tournament. It was the culmination of a frustrating season for Wells coming to fruition against Duke. This was the guy who many pegged as being an NBA player; there was absolutely no one on the court capable of guarding Wells. Three pointers, mid-range jumpers, and highlight-reel dunks. It’s arguably the best performance he may end up having at Maryland.
2012-2013 in review: Dez Wells was expected to take a pretty big leap in 2012 after having such a fantastic freshman year at Xavier. Unfortunately, all that got derailed when the school expelled him after some trumped up charges (which he is now taking them to court for) and Wells was forced to transfer to Maryland. Until a few days before the season, the Terps didn’t even know if they’d have Wells on their team for this season. Thank goodness they did, though, because he may have been the best player on the team.
Len may have been the lottery draft pick for his defense, but on the offensive end it was Wells who did most of the damage. 24 games of double-figure scoring, 14 games of 15 or more points, all while shooting 52% from the field. No other guard on the team shot better than 42% from the field, and only Shaquille Cleare, Len, and Padgett hit at a higher rate. Think about that for a second, then remember he’s a guard.
Speaking of which, he wasn’t just a guard; Wells basically had no position on the court. When he was asked to play shooting guard, he would slash on teams. When he was asked to play point guard, he distributed the ball with ease. Sometimes they’d throw him out at small forward and he’d rebound like crazy. Even when Maryland ran four guard sets, Wells might have found himself in a power forward role. Baseball has five-tool players, and Wells was the rough equivalent in basketball form.
Wells, in short, was Maryland’s emotional leader. He worked hard and they fed off his energy. While he wasn’t able to propel Maryland into a tournament berth, he was paramount in getting them to a 20+ win season.
Having the highest usage rate on the team, though, comes at a cost. Wells turned the ball over 2.8 times per game, which was good for highest on the team. His inability to hold onto the ball, at times, did more damage than good; he had a whopping ten games wherein he committed five or more turnovers. In ACC play, he accomplished that feat six times and — go figure — Maryland went 3-3. That points to doing just as much harm as good (obviously, not all those losses are even remotely on Dez in the first place).
A less sloppy Wells, and Maryland wins one or two more games though, I’ll tell you that.
The jump from sophomore to junior season is a big one for most elite guards. Their first season is spent realizing that what worked in high school simply doesn’t at the college level. Their sophomore campaign involves employing new techniques and adding a little veteran craft to their game in order to achieve success. But their junior campaign, if you’re staying in school, has to show refinement. The same mistakes you made in years one and two can’t happen. By now, you should have a feel for what you needed to work on in the offseason, and should have worked on it. Things should come easier for you, and your play should make a big leap.
That’s what I expect out of Dez Wells. He is a very smart basketball player (and individual), and I think Wells has figured it out. You saw towards the end of last season, when ten of his last eleven games he scored in double figure and eight of those games he shot over 50% from the floor, that things were just getting much easier against Wells. He took a Coach K defense and absolutely decimated it with his athleticism. Against UNC’s guard heavy team, he started moving his game outside and catching the defense off guard. What we saw out of Wells was the maturation of a player.
A maturation that will serve him well this season when he goes up against a Boeheim zone for the first time and all the lanky swingmen on that team; that will serve him well against a fully reloaded Duke and UNC roster. I have a feeling that Wells is going to get his this year regardless of the opponent, because he’s just seen so much basketball. The NCAA, the NIT, the A-10, the ACC. He’s a traveled man even though he’s only a junior, and his game should reflect that.
On a more technical side, I think the only thing really holding Wells back is his three point shot. If he can start knocking down those opportunities with some consistency, then his athleticism essentially means that the court is his. He’s as fast as any shooting guard in the nation, and stronger than even the toughest of them. For that, I expect wells to flourish this year, and potentially end up as a draft pick somewhere.