More than halfway through his sophomore campaign with Maryland, 7'1'' Ukrainian center Alex Len is the unquestioned face of the Terps basketball program.
Len bolted onto the national scene with a 23-point, 12-rebound and 4-block effort against Kentucky in a nationally televised game on the first day of the season.
Through Maryland's next 21 games, Len has continued to show flashes of brilliance.
His stellar play has warranted his inclusion into nearly every 2013 NBA mock draft lottery. The talented quartet of bloggers over at CBS (Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, Jeff Borzello) felt Len had been the 27th best player in America through January 11th.
But while he has certainly been Maryland's most productive asset, he isn't its most valuable.
Enter shooting guard Dez Wells, a sophomore transfer from Xavier. Wells ranks second on the team in scoring notching 12.2 points per contest, trailing Len by just one half of a point.
Wells just edges out Len for the team lead in minutes per game by less than a half of a minute. Their field goal percentages are also separated by just less than one tenth of a percentage point.
For the most part, other statistics aren't comparable between the two of them, because they play such different positions.
So what separates Wells as Maryland's most valuable player on its roster?
Wells has provided that offensive spark that Terrapin fans feared would be absent when Terrell Stoglin was booted from the team last offseason.
He gives Maryland an unrivaled level of assertiveness an energy that allows the Terps to put points on the scoreboard. When Maryland finds itself down in games, Wells is the only player still playing physical and giving his utmost effort to get to the tin and finish.
Maryland has benefited from his versatility as well. While Wells has shown he can command the offense from the perimeter, he has also shown he can outmuscle bigger opponents in the post.
It's easy to point at Wells' disappointing assist-to-turnover ratio and scowl at him, but he has quite the excuse. Maryland has endured a season-long quest to find a true point guard, and while Wells is certainly not a true point guard, he has been forced to play that position at times.
Dez Wells is the motor behind Maryland's strong 16-6 record. Without his electric demeanor and physical nature, the young Terps would probably be facing a third consecutive year without a tourney birth.
Maryland sits firmly on the bubble, but if Wells can continue his high level of his production, the Terps may find themselves in the NCAA Tournament.
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