Dez Wells is Key To Maryland's Success In Its Final ACC Season

By Jeff Kelly
Peter Casey – USA TODAY Sports

The Atlantic Coast Conference is already going to look strange in the upcoming season, and it’ll look even more different next year when longtime member Maryland heads west to join the Big Ten.

The Terps look to have a solid mixture of talent and experience returning from a squad that won 25 games a year ago, though last season would have to be measured as a disappointment. Maryland missed out on a trip to the NCAA Tournament, instead being relegated to the NIT where head coach Mark Turgeon’s team fell to Iowa in the semifinals.

Still, there is hope that the Terps could make a run at the field of 68 this season behind versatile swingman Dez Wells, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior who was among the team leaders in virtually every category last season. Wells paced the Terps with a scoring average of 13.0 PPG and also led the squad with 3.0 APG, and finished in the top three on the team in blocks and steals as well while shooting 52.6 percent from the field.

That’s some pretty outstanding production from the former Xavier player who was unceremoniously expelled from that school following allegations of sexual assault. The shadow of that expulsion could still hang over Wells this season, as it was recently revealed he has decided to sue Xavier, stating that the school never met the burden of proof and noting that a grand jury chose not to indict him on any charges.

Turgeon will be hoping that Wells will be able to move past that ugliness or at least put it on the shelf when the season rolls around, because the Terps will be leaning on him even more heavily now that Alex Len is in the NBA. Another transfer, Evan Smotrycz of Michigan, is eligible this season and should help take some of the pressure off of Wells, but this is still his team and his show.

The Terps will need a number of players to step up if they want to make a run at a berth into the Big Dance this season, but make no mistake about it: the success of the upcoming year rests most firmly with Wells.

Turgeon and Maryland fans alike are hoping his shoulders are wide enough to carry the load, as they would love nothing more than to go out and not only make it to the NCAA tournament, but surprise a few ACC rivals in their final season in the conference along the way.

Jeff is an ACC basketball writer on  Follow him on Twitter @jekelish and “Like” him on Facebook.

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