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Sounds like Maryland's got a real gem on their hands.
We're all still a bit dizzy from yesterday's Dezmania, but as everybody settles down some very pertinent questions have been raised. What exactly happened at X? How good is Wells, and how good can he be? Is he just a one-dimensional dunker?
Here to answer these questions are SBN Xavier blog Banners on the Parkway's Brad and Joel, who have written multiple pieces on the Wells situation, all well worth reading to get fully caught up in the Wells timeline. They do a fantastic job over at BotP, so make sure to head over and take a look around, especially if you're ever in need of a Xavier perspective.
We couldn't think of anyone better to help us give you a better idea of what Wells can bring to a team. And good thing, too, because when you read what they have to say about him, I can guarantee you your expectations about him will rise. To the questions:
For Maryland fans who may not've been following the Wells saga, could you give a quick summary of events, and your opinion on how what happened reflects on both Xavier and Wells?
In July, Wells was accused of committing sexual assault on the Xavier University campus. What came next is a bit murky. What we know for sure is that the Board of Conduct for Xavier University met, held hearings, and decided to expel Wells. Given that Xavier is currently running a streak of some of the worst public relations blunders I've ever seen, they failed to announce the expulsion before it leaked or then even comment what the expulsion was for. A Hamilton County grand jury found no reason in the facts presented to indict Wells, and the Hamilton County prosecutor even went so far as to call the expulsion "an injustice." The full story is full of wag the dog tactics and coincidences of timing that cause Xavier to come off looking very bad. If you have time to read the entire sordid tale, it can be found here.
Dez looked like one of the most productive and efficient freshmen in the country last season. Had he stayed on at Xavier, what type of year were you expecting out of him as a sophomore?
Dez put up 10/5/1 on .504/.377/.675 shooting as a freshman despite being the third or fourth offensive option on the team on any given trip down the floor. With everyone who got more touches than he did gone and some interesting players at the guard positions, it wasn't hard to see Dez going for 15/6/1 on something on the order of .450/.350/.700 shooting this year. The degree of difficulty of his chances was going to increase along with the volume, but I was hugely positive regarding his potential to be a breakout player on the national scene this season. To perhaps give you some idea of how highly I rated Dez, I figured that - between his ability level and the year he spent at prep school before college - he was almost a lock to leave Xavier after his junior year unless something unexpected happened. I honestly felt only a down year could keep him in college for four seasons.
Dez tweeted a picture of his flaking fingertips at one point this summer. He had literally spent so much time refining his shot that his skin was coming off. His work ethic is going to take him places that just his raw talent won't. Xavier fans are used to watching talent graduate, we've recently grown accustomed to having players good enough to leave early, this is the first time we've had to watch the school chase away a tremendously talented player. His sophomore year is going to be amazing, whenever he finally gets to play it.
What's Wells' overall game like? We know about his dunking and athleticism, of course. But what else can he bring to the table?
While the acrobatic stuff gets Wells onto SportsCenter, his game is more well-rounded than just a series of dunks in a highlight film. He demonstrated last year that he is a capable three-point shooter from a catch-and-shoot situation, especially from the corners. Later in the season last year, Xavier showed a look in which they would isolate Wells on the high post and allow him to go to work. He has the ability to hit from mid range and drive with either hand, and his finishing - as you mention - is very good on both sides of the rim. He's built like a linebacker but shot 37% from behind the arc last year. With his natural talents and athleticism, he could coast through games and still put up suitable stats, but he gets after it like a walk-on trying to convince the coach that life is more fun with him around. There is absolutely nothing that Wells will not at least attempt for the good of his team. Top tier recruits are supposed to play with the studied nonchalance of anyone to stroll through a game at Kentucky in the last two years, Wells never does that. He's on the floor, above the rim, and always sprinting. Whatever skills Wells took with him the day he left the Xavier campus, I can promise you they will be more refined and accompanied by a broader bag of tricks by the first time he suits up for the Terrapins.
Last one: Maryland's building a roster that should, hopefully, be a national contender in two years. You're a Xavier expert, not a Maryland one, so this question isn't in relation to Maryland's roster but just speaking generally: where would you see a player of Wells' quality fitting in on a team with Final Four ambitions? Starter? Sixth-man? Difference-maker?
Former Xavier standout and current Washington Wizard Jordan Crawford followed a similar career arc to Wells to this point: a year of prep school, one year at his first college (Indiana), a year sitting out due to transfer, and then a year at a second college (Xavier, obviously). By the time Wells suits up for Maryland, he'll be a sophomore in terms of eligibility, but it will be his fourth year out of high school. If Wells has a good season, hits a nasty scoop shot against Minnesota, and then blows Gus Johnson's mind with a 30-foot three-pointer to force double overtime, don't surprised to see him declare after just one year. If he sticks around for what would be his junior year, though, I think he can be a huge part of a very good team. Depending on what your other pieces are - and there seems to be a chance that Maryland's other pieces will be very good at that time - you can definitely make the Final Four with Dez Wells as the best player on your team.