When Maryland guard Dez Wells was waiting for the NCAA to grant him a waiver regarding his eligibility after transferring from Xavier this season, he credited his mother back in Raleigh, N.C. for helping him stay positive and focused.
But Pamela Wells is a lot more than her son's motivational coach. When he was growing up, the former Division II All-American at nearby St. Augustine's College taught her youngest child about how to be physical on the basketball court.
"Growing up, my mom always taught me to be tough. She never babied me at any point; she always wanted me to just outwork people, really just grind," Wells said after scoring 25 points Sunday in a 69-62 win over George Mason at Verizon Center in Washington, his second straight game setting a career high. "That's how I played my whole life."
Wells said that he often played with older kids on the playgrounds near his home, but he cherished the 1-on-1 games against his mom, a 6-1 forward who was a three-time CIA first-team player from 1985 through 1987.
"I didn't beat her until I was 12 or 13," Wells said with a smile. "She used to block my shot. I guess that's how I learned how finish through contact and around taller people. The way I play and everything I do is just a reflection of how great my mom is as a person and a basketball player."
Wells can remember the first time he beat his mom in a game, at Lions Park in Raleigh, not far from where Pamela Wells played in college.
"Once I beat her, she told me that if I could beat her, I could beat anybody," he said. "I've always kept that with me as motivation, that nobody is better than me.
Wells said that he has has never seen a tape of his mom from her playing days -- "only pictures and her bragging of how much better than she is than me" -- but he knows she was a good rebounder who still gets on her son about hitting the boards.
Wells has already displayed an uncanny ability to finish while getting fouled, as he did in Sunday's second half when he threw in a short right-handed scoop shot that helped the Terps get some breathing room on the pesky Patriots.
"That's just the basketball gods. I've make one of those every 15 games," he said.
It came from one of his basketball gods – his mom.