Maryland guard Dez Wells plans touching tribute for fallen friend

Jeff Eisenberg
Basketball star Wells settles suit against Xavier
FILE- In this March 4, 2014, file photo, Maryland's Dez Wells (32) fist-bumps a fan in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia Tech in College Park, Md. Wells, a former Xavier University basketball player, who was expelled over what he says was a false rape allegation has settled his lawsuit against the school over their handling of the case. Federal Judge S. Arthur Spiegel dismissed Wells' lawsuit against Xavier, Thursday, April 24, 2014, saying the two had resolved their conflict. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

When Dez Wells takes the floor for the first time next season, astute Maryland fans will notice something different about the standout wing.

He told the Baltimore Sun he intends to ditch his No. 32 and don No. 44 to honor the memory of a former AAU teammate killed in a 2010 car wreck.

Detrique Baker, a 6-foot-9 center who teamed with Wells on the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based CP3 All-Stars, was one of four men who died in the wee hours of the morning on July 2, 2010 after being ejected from a 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer that overturned in Raleigh. Wells and Baker had talked about playing together in college and were both being recruited by Xavier. 

Wells has wanted to wear No. 44 since he began his college career at Xavier, but Musketeers teammate Griffin McKenzie already had it. The same thing happened to Wells when he transferred to Maryland only to learn the number was already earmarked for incoming freshman Shaquille Cleare.

But with Cleare transferring and Wells returning for his senior season, the chance for Wells to honor his friend has finally arrived.

Wells will be the second ex-AAU teammate of Baker's to honor the fallen power forward.

UConn wing Rodney Purvis chose No. 44 in Baker's honor when he joined the Huskies via transfer last year. Purvis also donned No. 44 at the McDonald's All-American game his senior year.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!