Now that I’ve located the missing car key that prevented me from joining Greg Roberts in studio yesterday, I find myself wondering how I forgot about Dez Wells.
Standing around during a break at the ACC’s Operation Basketball, I was chatting with former UVa and NBA guard-turned-basketball commentator Cory Alexander.
Alexander told me that he thought Maryland would be much-improved and that he wouldn’t be surprised if Wells was the ACC player of the year.
“Yeah, Wells,” I thought to myself.
Then, several hours later, I left Wells off my preseason all-conference ballot.
Apparently, so did a lot of other people because Wells did not make a preseason All-ACC team composed of Syracuse’s C.J. Fair, Virginia’s Joe Harris, Duke’s Rodney Hood, Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant and Duke’s Jabari Parker.
And, by the way, only one of them, Harris, played in the ACC last year.
Fair and Grant played in the Big Ten, Hood was sitting out after transferring from Mississippi State and Parker was still in high school.
In hindsight, Wells wasn’t the only notable absentee. I voted for Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan, last season’s ACC rookie of the year and the second-leading scorer among ACC returnees after averaging 15.4 points per game.
Harris, at 16.3 points per game, was the leader among returnees.
It’s interesting that the newcomers got more support than such returnees as Hanlan; his B.C. teammate, Ryan Anderson (14.9); Wake Forest’s Travis McKie (13.9); UVa’s Akil Mitchell (13.1), and Wells (13.1)
I can see how people may have crossed off North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston (14.6) in the face of legal issues that have allowed him to practice but may result in some suspension time.
Mitchell and Anderson are 1-2 among the league’s top returning rebounders. Mitchell, who shot 54.5 percent from the field, also ranked second among returnees behind N.C. State’s T.J. Warren in that category.
Makes me think, with 15 teams in the league now, maybe that merits a preseason first and second team.
BUT, THINK ABOUT Wells, the one-time Hargrave Military standout who transferred to Maryland after spending his freshman year at Xavier.
Wells was 17th in the league in scoring (counting seniors), sixth in field-goal percentage, 10th in assists and 10th in assist-turnover ratio.
He’s a 6-foot-5, 215-pound dynamo who should thrive without Alex Len, a 7-footer who was the focal point of Maryland’s team before making himself available for the NBA Draft.
One of the most notable aspects of the predicted order of finish was Miami being picked for 11th place (a meager four points ahead of Wake Forest) despite winning the regular-season title, capturing the ACC Tournament and finishing 29-7.
Coach Jim Larranaga, whose team was part of a three-way, fourth-place tie in the 2012 preseason poll, does not have a returning starter. However, he does have 6-foot-6 graduate student Garrius Adams, who started 37 games in his first three seasons, including 24 as a sophomore in 2010-2011.
Adams, who missed the 2012-2013 season with a knee injury, will be joined by a cast that has only one player, Rion Brown, who played as much as 300 minutes. Brown played 22 minutes per game and averaged 6.4 points.
If I’m not mistaken, the Hurricanes are adding a player, 6-9 graduate student Donnavan Kirk, who has started 37 games in his career, which started at Miami before shifting DePaul and is now returning to Coral Gables.
Miami has another transfer, junior Angel Rodriguez, a second-team All-Big 10 selection in 2011-2012, when he started 33 of 33 games at Kansas State and averaged 11.4 points, with 173 assists.
There was talk that Rodriguez would seek a waiver that would allow him to play this year but the Hurricanes did not puruse that because Rodriguez has tendinitis and wants to play two injury-free seasons.
But, you hear about Adams, Kirk and Brown, throw in Larranaga’s acumen, and maybe this isn’t a 12th-place team.
One team that finished higher than I picked it was North Carolina, which loses starters Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickland, can’t say what Hairston’s status is and needs more consistent play from James-Michael McAdoo as a junior.