John Wall cast as NBA superstar seems obvious now, but at one point, the Washington Wizards' guard was just a basketball-loving kid with big dreams growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Dez Wells was right there with Wall, literally. The friendship began before either turned 10 years old. High school teammates at Word of God Academy, the duo remain close even as their basketball lives have separated them.
The pair was figuratively together once again Thursday afternoon as the former Maryland standout turned NBA Draft prospect worked out for the Wizards on the same practice court Wall preps.
Throughout the years, their conversations rarely focused on basketball. Enough hoops talk exists elsewhere in their world. Chats between their younger versions focused on the basics, like at whose house they would hang or have dinner. When the current Wells and Wall talk, it's mostly about the good old days even as Wells prepared for his latest workout with a team Wall knows best.
No, he didn’t give me any tips," Wells said while standing in a Verizon Center hallway a few feet away from pictures of his childhood friend. "He just told me to go out there and play basketball. Do what you love and make the right plays and everything will work itself out."
When it comes to making the NBA, words do not measure up to the path Wall already blazed, the path his childhood friend hopes to follow.
"The best thing that has happened to me is success leaves footprints," Wells said. "So just watching the things John did when he was playing in high school and middle school and things like that, I just kept dreaming.
"I just kept working on my game and he kept giving me motivation by what he did on the court and it just rubbed off on me, his work ethic and competitive spirit."
Wells generated plenty of spirit and production during his three seasons at Maryland after transferring from Xavier. The powerfully built 6-foot-4 guard improved his scoring during each of his four college seasons, culminating with a 15.1 average during his senior season. The Terps reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.
Since then, the focus shifted to improving his game for the NBA. Athleticism, strength and "my ability to get to the basket" are Wells' acknowledged assets. Decision-making and ball handling are the upgrade areas along with his perimeter shot.
Though he sank 51 percent of his 3-point attempts last season, Wells said recent work has him feeling, "More confident in my shot. I feel as confident in my game as I've ever been in my game so far. It's a dream come true. I'm just living in the moment."
Six other players participated in Thursday's workout, which was the eighth for Wells, including UNLV guard and potential first-round pick Rashad Vaughn and Arizona forward Brandon Ashley. Trips next week to Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Detroit remain for the first-team All-Big Ten selection.
"I’m not nervous at all about a job interview," the confident Wells said. "I’m just going out and being myself. I’m pretty sure I’ll impress those guys and they’ll be impressed with what I can do and say."
Perhaps there will be conversations with Wall mixed in during his travels. If so, they just won't be about basketball.
"That’s not really the dynamic of our relationship," Wells explained. "We don’t like talking basketball to each other because we get enough of that [elsewhere]. We just sit down and catch up and laugh and joke about the fun times we had in high school and the different ideas and things we want to do in the future."
Their lives might be directly connected once again if the Wizards select Wells or if both are in the league. Most NBA big boards and mock drafts project as a possible second round pick.
"John is a good friend, like a big brother for me," Wells said. "I would love to be a teammate with John Wall, but wherever I go I’m just happy and blessed to be there."
He discounted the idea of surprise should the two kids from North Carolina make the NBA.
"We’ve been working since we were younger so when your dreams start to come to fruition you shouldn’t be surprised because it’s already been visualized in your head. You’ve already seen it in your head."
Wells has also seen his childhood friend's path to the league. It's one he hopes to follow.
Notes: Guards James Carlton (Howard), Corey Hawkins (UC Davis) also participated in the workout along with forwards David Laury (Iona) and F Nikola Radicevic (Serbia).
MORE WIZARDS: Terps' Dez Wells, UNLV's Vaughn working out for Wizards