For two days, Dez Wells took Greensboro Coliseum by storm. The sophomore swingman powered Maryland past Wake Forest in the opening round, then hammered Duke with a career-high 30 points in the quarterfinals. And even though his offensive production dipped in his team’s semifinal loss against North Carolina, Wells still drove, shot and dunked his way onto the all-ACC tournament first team.
Wells averaged 21.7 points and shot 57.9 percent from the field over three games in Greensboro, N.C., an 80-mile drive west of his home town of Raleigh. With a host of family and friends in the stands, Wells was nearly unstoppable for the first two rounds, willing the Terps to an unexpected run, three points short of a championship game appearance.
“The great thing about Dez is, everyone knows he’s going to drive it and he still gets to the rim,” Coach Mark Turgeon said.
Wells, who transferred this offseason from Xavier and instantly became Maryland’s emotional leader, struggled against the Tar Heels before a sellout crowd of mostly North Carolina fans. Despite shooting 6 for 15 from the field, clearly tired from his dominating performance against the Blue Devils the previous night, Wells still finished with 15 points. He was 6 for 8 on three-pointers and 17 for 20 from the free-throw line during the ACC tournament.
“Dez almost carried him all the way back at the end,” North Carolina Coach Roy Williams said. “I grabbed him and told him he had a phenomenal performance for three days here, and to build on that. But we couldn’t get him slowed, we were trying to slow him down, and we couldn’t get guys back fast enough to help Reggie [Bullock]. It’s hard to guard Dez when he’s in the open court coming at you full speed.”
Wells was the only non-North Carolina or Miami player named to the first team. Joining him was tournament MVP Shane Larkin, who led the Hurricanes to an 87-77 win in the title game, Miami guard Durand Scott, North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston and Bullock.
The second team was comprised of Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan, who set an ACC freshman record with 41 points against Georgia Tech in the first round, North Carolina State’s Scott Wood, Miami’s Trey McKinney Jones and Julian Gamble, and UNC’s Marcus Paige.