Dez Wells says he'll have an advantage as a bigger point guard
Dez Wells handles the ball against Virginia Tech's Erick Green last season. (Peter Casey, USA TODAY Sports / February 7, 2013)
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And, oh, one more thing: he was going to be the point guard.
Wells has been a leader for the Terps ever since he arrived last season after transferring from Xavier, but now that will involve more than taking over games when things go haywire.
“It’s just natural for me. I just wanted to settle things down,” Wells, a junior, said after practice Friday. “I’m kind of an alpha male personality, or attitude, when things aren’t going right. I like to grab control of things. Last year we had younger guys and sometimes they would go a little wild, even me.”
Wells led the Terps both in scoring (13.1 points per game) and turnovers (2.8) last season. But even before Allen got hurt — he will be sidelined up to 10 weeks after undergoing surgery in Baltimore — coach Mark Turgeon said he was toying with the idea of using Wells at point guard.
“After our private scrimmage [against Villanova on Oct. 20], I realized I needed to teach [freshman] Roddy [Peters] multiple spots, and I needed another point guard, so we started practicing Dez at the point after the scrimmage,” Turgeon said. “So he’s really far along with that.”
Turgeon, whose team will play its lone exhibition game Sunday against Division III Catholic University at Comcast Center, said the adjustment to the muscular 6-foot-5, 215-pound Wells at point has not been as difficult as it might have been had he decided to use Peters.
Maryland opens the regular season against Connecticut on Friday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“One of the questions asked after Seth went down was, ‘Who’s going to be your starting point guard on Sunday against Catholic?’ It’s Dez. But it doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way all year,” Turgeon said. “Everybody is going to have to step up and a do a little bit more.
“To be honest, we just really simplified our offense. We put a lot in during the week leading up to when Seth got hurt, now we’re trying to get better at what we do. So I think our guys are really comfortable in what we’re doing.”
Wells seems very confident about making the move to the point, a position he played in high school and on Amateur Athletic Union teams — and a spot Turgeon sees him playing in the NBA.
Because of his size and strength, Wells was almost unstoppable at times toward the end of last season, including a 30-point performance in a win over Duke in the ACC tournament.
The only thing that seemed to hold him back at times was his being a bit reckless going to the basket and careless with the ball.
“As a competitor, I love the challenge of having to guard smaller guys and have smaller guys guarding me. It's going to make me better,” Wells said. “I'm not scared. I take on all challenges, and I'm ready to take on whoever steps in front of me.”
While his driving angles will be different than from the wing, Wells should be able to see the floor better than the 6-1 Allen or 6-3 former Terp point guard Pe’Shon Howard, who transferred to Southern California.
“It gives me an advantage. It gives me a chance ... to see where everybody is,” Wells said of his size.
Wells said he has already consulted with “a lot of influential people,” including one in Los Angeles. Since playing on an AAU team sponsored by NBA star Chris Paul in their native North Carolina, Wells has been in touch with the Clippers point guard.
Though he did not mention Paul by name, Wells said the former Wake Forest star told him that he’s been in the same position before.
“He said it’s nothing new,” Wells said. “Just go in with the right mentality and don’t look at is an obstacle — look at it as an opportunity.”