Dezmine Wells’ decision to transfer to Maryland is sure to grab headlines. Why? It’s not often a player of his caliber is signing on with a new school in early September, and the circumstances surrounding his departure from Xavier have been reported everywhere. But let's take a look beyond the hype and examine exactly what Well’s arrival means, while also asking a few questions.
Beyond the hype and the headlines, what exactly makes Dezmine Wells a huge pick-up for Maryland?
First and foremost, the talent injection continues …Mark Turgeon inherited a roster comprised largely of mid-to-low level ACC talents. In a bit more than a year, he’s stockpiled talent at a rate that hasn’t been seen since the Lefty Driesell years. Depending on whom you listen to, Wells was either a top-50 or top-75 talent coming out of high school. To add a player with his ability as a late, complimentary piece is a coup for the Terps, who suddenly boast a roster brimming with potential stars.
It also continues Maryland’s reemergence as a ‘name brand’ program …While Wells wasn’t a McDonald’s all-American, his dynamic style of play and the attention given to top prospects in the Raleigh area made him a well-known commodity. Maryland was able to swoop on and beat out several high-major programs for Wells, a player many other recruits are familiar
with. Recruiting, of course, is a sales game, and reputation matters in sales.
Will Wells be suiting up this season? No one knows. Anything you read at this point is pure speculation. Some might argue that the allegations leading to his dismissal from Xavier would prevent the P.R.-sensitive NCAA from granting a waiver. But you could also argue that it would appear unfair if the NCAA forced him to sit after he was quickly dismissed from Xavier, with little due process in a case that has been widely criticized. One thing would seem to be certain: the Terps should and likely will vigorously press the NCAA for a waiver.
If he’s granted a waiver … The expectations for the upcoming season just spiked. Observers have raved about the potential shown by Maryland’s freshman class. The Terps also feature a potential first-round pick in Alex Len, a budding star in Nick Faust and a much-improved veteran in James Padgett. With the ultra-versatile Wells in the fold – he’s a fierce rebounder and defender and a terror on the break -- it’s frightening to think about how many different lineups Turgeon could put together. [i]“He’s 6-5, 225 and maybe has five-percent body fat. One of the top three most athletic guys I’ve coached. He can defend point guard all the way to power forward,” said his high school coach, Kendrick Williams.
If he’s not granted a waiver … He’ll make the rest of the players work harder in practice and become part of an experienced 2013 class. Maryland also has Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz, another NCAA Tournament-tested player, stashed away for 2013. And massive center Damonte Dodd will get bigger and better during his post-grad year. Add Wells and whichever high school guards Turgeon signs, whether it’s Roddy Peters, the Harrisons, or others, and you’ve got a college-ready crew joining Maryland’s young pups after they’ve had a year to mature. Another scary thought.
Maryland didn’t need a previous ‘in’ to land Wells … Turgeon sealed the deal without the benefit of great pre-existing ties; assistant Bino Ranson was finishing up at Xavier when the Muskateers were beginning to recruit him, and according to Williams the two weren’t well-acquainted. While Turgeon’s done a masterful job of parlaying previous relationships into commitments – see Shaquille Cleare, Seth Allen and Jake Layman – those Texas A&M connections won’t last much longer as his A&M days move farther into the past, and Wells’ commitment is further proof that Turgeon can recruit top prospects, period.
The Terps just got a lot bigger and more athletic … Gary Williams recruited some good players in recent years, but generally speaking, the Terps weren’t at the top of the ACC in size or athleticism and weren’t presenting a ton of mismatch problems. Wells is an excellent leaper with a chiseled frame, and he’s powerful attacking the rim. Maryland already had a prototypical wing player in Faust and a potential mismatch in Len. Turgeon added a monster down low in Shaquille Cleare, another versatile forward in 6-8 Jake Layman, a skilled and burly power forward in Charles Mitchell, a three-point shooting big in Smotrycz and a dynamic guard in Seth Allen. Whenever Wells does take the floor, it’ll be interesting to see opposing coaches scramble.