On Saturday, at around 2:00 p.m., the final seconds will tick off the clock in Maryland's game against Michigan. And as that buzzer sounds, it will signal not only the end of the game, but the last time Maryland fans will get to see Dez Wells in a Terps uniform at the Xfinity Center.
In some ways, it's hard to believe Wells' career at Maryland is entering its final chapter. It seems like yesterday he was granted a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately after transferring from Xavier. Then again, when you think about all of the things Wells has gone through in his three seasons at Maryland, it's hard to believe he hasn't graduated yet.
Wells has been asked to do a lot in his time as a Terp. After dealing with the wrongful dismissal from Xavier, he was able to land at Maryland, eager to help Mark Turgeon in his quest to revive a Maryland program that had slowly taken a step back.
Dez immediately stepped in and became a leader in the locker room for Maryland. He led the team in points per game during the 2012-13 season, helping Maryland reach the NIT semi-finals and win 25 games. And he did it on a Maryland team transitioning out of the Gary Williams era.
On top of being rushed into a leadership role as a sophomore at a school he just transferred to, Wells helped Maryland in another transition: moving from the ACC to the Big Ten.
With Dez on the court for Maryland, fans always knew they'd have a player giving it his all to try to help Maryland win. Never was that more evident than during the Terps' recent win against Wisconsin Tuesday.
"Dez Wells was terrific," Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said following his team's upset win against the Badgers. "He was not going to let us lose. He was great defensively. He was great rebounding. He was great scoring, with four assists and no turnovers."
It was a huge game for Maryland, for a number of reasons. And just as he's done so many times previously, Wells put his team on his back and carried them to victory. Against Wisconsin, he scored a game-high 26 points. It was vintage Dez, perhaps the best we've seen him since he suffered a broken wrist against Iowa State earlier in the season. In another exaple of how dedicated and passionate he is to prove himself and help his team win, Well finished out that Iowa State game despite the wrist fracture.
"I've been working on my shot a lot," Wells said following Maryland's last win. "I've been working on it since I've been at college. Driving the ball, finding open shooters, and getting to the line were important for me."
Dez has always been willing to do whatever it takes to try to help his team win. Just look back to last season, after sophomore guard Seth Allen injured his foot prior to the start of the season. Allen was expected to be the Terps' starting point guard , so when he went down, Dez immediately stepped up and assumed that role.
"He has been our vocal leader, for him to run the point is kind of a natural for him," Mark Turgeon said about Dez in a Baltimore Sun article last year.
As Wells has grown and blossomed, so has his team surrounding him. He's been the catalyst that has helped Maryland to once again become relevant in the college basketball landscape. He's been Maryland's rock through thick and thin over the past three seasons and Saturday will begin to close the book on the Dez Wells chapter at Maryland, as he plays in his final home game.
But because of Dez, Maryland's season will extend well beyond Saturday's match up against Michigan or their two final regular season road games against Rutgers and Nebraska. It will continue on after the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago, too. For the first time since 2010, Maryland will be participating in the NCAA Tournament, thanks in large part to Dez Wells. It's the cherry onto of what has been a remarkable season and career for the senior, one full of vindication and hard work that has helped the Terps climb out of the abyss and back into the collegiate basketball spotlight.