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Maryland’s Dez Wells switching jersey number to honor late former teammate

Jun 21, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT

Dez Wells2 AP

Maryland senior guard Dez Wells will have a different jersey number for his final season of college basketball as the North Carolina native will honor the memory of his late former grassroots teammate, Detrique Baker.

Although the switch from No. 32 to Wells’ new number, 44, hasn’t taken place on the official Maryland basketball website, Wells told the Baltimore Sun on Friday that he plans on making the switch.

Wells and Baker played together on the CP3 All-Stars in high school and Wells said he and the 6-foot-9 Baker talked about potentially playing at Xavier together after high school.

“We were both being recruited to go to Xavier,” Wells told the Baltimore Sun.

Xavier ended up landing Wells after a year in prep school, but Baker was killed in a car accident on July 1, 2010. According to reports, Baker was one of four passengers who were killed when the SUV they were traveling in overturned and crashed near Raleigh. Baker was identified by a basketball tattoo on his chest and another tattoo that featured his mother’s name on his arm.

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

The number 44 was never available to Wells until this season. At Xavier, Wells wore the No. 5 — as 44 was taken — and the last two years at Maryland former big man Shaquille Cleare wore the number before transferring this offseason. Cleare’s departure paved the way for Wells to claim the No. 44 to honor his late friend.

But as the Baltimore Sun story notes, Wells isn’t the only player to wear the No. 44 to honor Detrique Baker. Another former member of the CP3 All-Stars, Rodney Purvis, wore No. 44 at the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2012 and also opted to take the same number when he transferred to UConn from North Carolina State last offseason.

This is a nice story and a nice way for Wells — and Purvis — to honor the memory of Detrique Baker.