After transferring from Xavier to Maryland, Dez Wells was able to become one of the more productive Terps in recent memory. His tough, fearless playing style along with his impact in every facet of the game has made Wells the face of Mark Turgeon's teams the last three years. The only downside of having such a versatile, effective player is replacing him when he graduates. This is exactly what Maryland will try to do in the 2015-2016 season.
Not only did Wells find a new home as a Terrapin, but he became Maryland's leading scorer each of his first two seasons at College Park. Despite averaging 14 points, 2.6 assists, and 4.6 rebounds in his first two seasons, Wells was unable to lead Mark Turgeon's squad to the NCAA Tournament in his sophomore or junior season. Entering his senior season, with his coach feeling pressure from a hungary fan base, Dez Wells took on a role that will be hard for Maryland to replace.
In his senior season, Dez Wells was determined to get back to the NCAA tournament, where he hadn't been since reaching the Sweet 16 in his freshman season at Xavier. He was also looking to take a Maryland program to the big dance for the first time since 2010. With freshman guard Melo Trimble arriving on campus, Wells finally had the help he needed to push Maryland toward the top of the Big Ten. While it was his first year at Maryland not leading the Terps in scoring, Wells still averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. Wells also brought a senior leadership to Maryland that was much needed.
While Wells didn't shoot a ton of threes, but he still hit 51% from deep in his senior season. The other key area the Terps lose with Wells graduating is ball handling. Melo Trimble can't have the ball in his hands the whole game. Wells was able to create offense at times giving Trimble a break. He was also able to take pressure off Trimble defensively by guarding a teams biggest backcourt threat a lot of the time. It will take multiple players to replace the all-around player Dez Wells was for Maryland in his senior season, along with his leadership.
Of course, Mark Turgeon hopes that incoming transfer Rasheed Sulaimon can be a big part of replacing Wells. Sulaimon played 3 seasons at Duke before transferring to College Park. While his role diminished over the last 2 seasons, and he was dismissed from the team half way through the 2014-2015 season, Sulaimon still managed to shoot over 40% during his sophomore and junior season at Duke. What Sulaimon won't be able to replace is the amount of offense Wells created for others. At Duke, Sulaimon was never responsible for creating offense for his teammates at Duke.
The addition of freshman Jaylen Brantley along with Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley playing bigger roles will help the Terrapins, but ultimately, Melo Trimble might have to shoulder even more of a load than he did in his freshman campaign. Trimble is far and away the best playmaker the Terps bring back. While he has a good surrounding cast with players like Jake Layman, Sulaimon, and 5-star freshman center Diamond Stone, Trimble will have to be the one to create the offense. After playing 33.5 minutes per game last season, I wouldn't be surprised if the sophomore guard is elevated to 35 mpg in his second and possible final season at Maryland. Diamond Stone could be the x-factor on this team, however, as he could pose a real threat with his ability to stretch the floor and work in the post. This would present a huge challenge for defenses who would already have to cover a stretch power forward in Layman.
Ultimately, there is no way to replace the combination of leadership and impact Dez Wells brought to the court every night with one player. The good news for Maryland is Mark Turgeon has added a lot of talent going in to the 2015-2016 season through transfers and recruiting. Collectively, Maryland can fill the void left by Wells, but it will take multiple players elevating their game to the next level for the Terps to have the special season everyone thinks they can have.