Fifteen days ago I wrote that if Dezmine Wells was cleared to play, the ACC would have a serious title contender outside the state of North Carolina.
In 29 minutes of action last night, Wells came as advertised putting not only the ACC on notice, but the rest of the nation as well. The Maryland Terrapins might have lost to the Kentucky Wildcats on the scoreboard but you can bet coach Mark Turgeon isn’t feeling like a loser today.
It was a significant blow for the Terps after the NCAA originally ruled Wells ineligible for reasons that made no sense what-so-ever. Maryland believed Wells had a chance to be the type of player that pushed them over the top, turning a good team into a great one. Once the NCAA reversed its decision and allowed Wells to play, he made sure to let it be known there was a reason he belonged on the court.
In his Terrapins debut he recorded eight points, four rebounds, four assists and one steal. He had a reputation as a stat sheet stuffer with the Xavier Musketeers, the type of player that hates to see any zeros next on his stat line. Wells made sure to live up to that reputation last night, as an unselfish, do-all-the-little-things type that Turgeon knows is a perfect complement to key players Alex Len, Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard.
If you need proof of how much confidence Turgeon has in his sophomore transfer, there is one key stat to consider. Mid-week Wells wasn’t even supposed to play last night, however once he was cleared Turgeon didn’t bother to ease him into game action. He didn’t care that maybe Wells might not have mentality prepared or needed time to adjust to a new team. Instead Wells started the game and finished second in minutes played, behind only Len who posted 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Wells went from not playing at all to playing the most with the only exception being the 7-footer who was recording a double-double. If that’s not confidence in a player, especially to have his head on straight after everything he’s been through since his expulsion from Xavier, then I don’t know what is.
Wells’ performance wasn’t flawless, he did only shoot 2 for 12 from the floor. Chalk that up to early season jitters and a world-wind of emotions over a 72 hour span. He shot 50.4% last year with Xavier, so his shooting stroke will find itself.
When the pre-game chatter was all about the new freshmen class for Kentucky, the Terrapins managed to steal the spotlight. Maryland hung tight with a team many have predicted will return to the Final Four, proving they are a lot stronger than some originally thought.
Meanwhile Wells proved why Turgeon wanted him with Maryland and you can bet the rest of the nation has taken notice.
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