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Dez Wells to change uniform number for fallen former teammate

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Dez Wells is the leader of the Terps in a big year forthcoming. (USATSI)

Outside of maybe 5 percent of the Maryland fan base, the team's coaching staff, Terps teammates and his family, I'm not sure anyone else could've told you what number Dez Wells wore with the Terps the past two seasons.

And that number might even be a little high.

But a few more are likely to know of Wells' uniform ID going forward, because he's playing his final season of college basketball as a dedication. Per The Baltimore Sun, Wells is going to change from 32 to 44 next season in honor of a friend and former AAU teammate who was killed four years ago in a car wreck.

As members of the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based CP3 All-Stars, Wells and Detrique Baker, a skinny 6-foot-9 center who had moved to Raleigh from Texas while in high school, talked about playing college basketball together. ...

On July 1, 2010, Baker was one of four passengers who were killed when the SUV they were riding in overturned and crashed outside Raleigh. According to reports, Baker was identified by a tattoo of a basketball on his chest and one with his mother's name on his arm.

“I always wanted to wear 44 to honor him,” Wells said Friday.

The reason Wells never wore 44 at Xavier: it was taken at the time by a sophomore forward, Griffin McKenzie. And when he got to Maryland, Shaquille Cleare had 44.

But Cleare transferred out of Maryland in the spring. So a long-awaited dedication will finally be sewn into Wells' uniform. And he'll join Rodney Purvis, who's now at UConn, in wearing 44 to honor Baker. Purvis, like Wells, is also a transfer; he began his career at NC State before leaving for the Huskies in 2013.

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