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After intrasquad scrimmage, Mark Turgeon says Terps' Alex Len will start

Mark Turgeon has talked often in the preseason about how much bulkier and self-assured center Alex Len is compared to last year.

The Maryland basketball coach went a step further Saturday by pronouncing Len as his only certain starter.

"You ask me who's starting, I'd say Alex Len is starting," Turgeon said following an intrasquad scrimmage at Comcast Center in which the 7-foot-1 Len and transfer Dez Wells were standouts. "After that, I really don't know."

If the season began this weekend, Turgeon said he would have a deeper rotation than last season, when he needed to use walk-ons to fill out a thin roster. The team went 17-15 and did not play in the postseason.

Turgeon said his rotation this season could include as many as nine players — not including Wells, who transferred from Xavier in the offseason and is awaiting an NCAA ruling on his eligibility.

Wells was credited with a game-leading six baskets in the brief scrimmage.

"Dez had a good scrimmage," Turgeon said. "He made shots and he was great on the break."

In one sequence, Wells stole the ball and banked in a layup high off the board. He followed moments later with a 3-pointer.

Wells was playing with a bandage over his left wrist and thumb. Turgeon said the player slid on the floor and cut his hand, but that the injury was minor.

Freshman forward Jake Layman sprained his ankle during the scrimmage, but Turgeon said he hoped the player would be back at practice next week.

Wells, 6 feet 5, who can play guard or small forward, was dismissed by Xavier after his freshman season following a sexual-assault allegation that a prosecutor said was unproven. He was not charged.

It's uncertain whether Wells will be able to play for the Terps this season. Maryland is seeking an NCAA waiver under which he would receive an exemption from the transfer rule and not be required to sit out a season. Xavier is cooperating with Maryland in its request on the player's behalf. Turgeon said a decision could come in the next week or so.

Wells "can jump, he can get to the rim," said sophomore guard Nick Faust, who was credited with two baskets, including a 3-pointer. "We go at it every day in practice."

Len made three shots in the brief scrimmage, including a fadeaway jumper.

"Coach wants me to shoot more," said Len, who said he expects to attempt some 3-pointers.

Len will have more help inside this year than he did last year. He played on a team Saturday with 6-8 freshman Charles Mitchell, who was credited with four rebounds.

Maryland is counting on 6-9 freshman Shaquille Cleare to be a top rebounder as well.

"Those big guys help us on rebounds and defense," Len said. "We've got length."

The Terps open their season against Kentucky on Nov. 9 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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