Since his arrival to the University of Maryland during the 2012-13 season, guard/forward Dez Wells has been a leader of the offense for head coach Mark Turgeon and the Terps men's basketball team.
This season, with the addition of freshman point guard Melo Trimble, Wells has seen the burden of running an offense reduced.
With Trimble on the floor, Wells has been able to play the small forward position more consistently, which has played more to his strengths -- scoring off the dribble and attacking the basket.
And his teammates have taken notice.
"He's got a load of pressure off of him," forward Jon Graham said. "Melo does a tremendous job at being a point guard, and it takes pressure off of Dez. It lets Dez do what he does best."
During his first season with the Terps in 2012-13, Wells led the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game, and then again as a junior last season with 14.9 points per contest. He was also among the team leaders in rebounding and assists, making him one of the team's most vital pieces.
"For a little bit, I had to really adjust my game, and find ways to affect the game and help my teammates out without me being able to score," Wells said.
Trimble has seemingly taken the role Wells has played for the Terps during the past; serving as the team's floor general while leading the Terps to wins.
Last season, the Terps participated in the Paradise Jam Tournament in November, and Wells garnered tournament Most Valuable Player honors. This season, the Terps participated and won the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Though Wells was named to the CBE Classic All-Tournament Team, it was Trimble who took home MVP honors.
With Trimble leading the way, the Terps have proven they can succeed without Wells. Following the CBE Classic, Wells missed seven games in late November and through most of December with a wrist injury. During those seven games without Wells, the Terps went 6-1, with Trimble averaging a team-high 16.7 points per game.
Missing an extended period of time was a setback for Wells, but he has slowly returned to form. The Terps have relied on him to play multiple positions during his time at Maryland, including point guard. The addition of Trimble has allowed Wells and the rest of the team to increase its offensive production, something junior forward Jake Layman has taken notice of.
"I think it's his passing that has really helped, not just to Dez, but to everybody," Layman said. "All around, you can see when Melo's not scoring, he's passing."
Wells has continued his role as the Terps' go-to player late in games. During the team's 68-67 win against Northwestern University Jan. 25, Wells scored the game-winning basket with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation. The basket came nearly a year after Wells drilled a game-winning 3-pointer during the closing seconds of a 74-71 win against the University of Miami.
Wells also came up big during the Terps' 68-66 double overtime win at Michigan State Dec. 30, the program's first Big Ten conference victory. With five seconds remaining in the second half, Wells hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime before sinking a pair of free throws to send the game to the second overtime.
Regardless of who is on the floor for the Terps, Wells said his approach to each game remains the same.
"I want to dominate in every aspect, so with that being said, you have to bring your teammates up to the same level of intensity," Wells said. "I think the guys have responded well and have done a great job, but at this point, we're barely scratching the surface of our potential."
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