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Bond between Dez Wells and John Wall extends beyond basketball


Bond between Dez Wells and John Wall extends beyond basketball

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

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Bojan Bogdanovic and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Season series on the line

The Wizards and Pacers square off for the third and final time this season on Saturday night and the game will represent the tiebreaker for the season series. The Wizards beat the Pacers in their first meeting on Feb. 5 and Indiana then got even on March 4. The first game did not feature Victor Oladipo. John Wall didn't play in either of them.

Whichever team wins on Saturday night will own the playoff tiebreaker, meaning that team will get the better seed in the even they finish with the same regular season record. Right now only one game separates the teams, so that could definitely come into play. With a win over the Pacers, the Wizards could also move into third place in the East. They would tie the Pacers by record and own the head-to-head series. The one variable there is the Cavs play the Bulls on Saturday. If they win and the Pacers lose, the Cavs will be in third.


Wizards have been struggling

The Wizards won their last game on the road against the Celtics, but have lost five of their last eight overall. They remain in good shape in the big picture, but could use some positive momentum. A win over the Pacers would certainly give them that with three off days awaiting on the other end before they head out to San Antonio to face the Spurs.

Defense has been the problem. During this eight-game stretch, they have allowed the second-most points in the paint per game (53.8), the ninth-most points per game (111.0) overall and the fourth-highest opponents shooting percentage (49.3). 


Pacers are tough

The Pacers may be missing two of their best big men on Saturday as Domantas Sabonis has been ruled out and Myles Turner is questionable. Both are nursing sprained left ankles. That bodes well for the Wizards' defense in the paint, but Indiana still has plenty of firepower.

Oladipo is having a terrific season with averages of 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. There's also Bojan Bogdanovic, a former Wizards player who is averaging 14.0 points and shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three this year. Bogdanovic has scored 20 points or more in each of his games against the Wizards this season. The Pacers as a team have won six of their last eight.


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Ramon Sessions signs with Wizards for rest of season, giving them long-term insurance for John Wall

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Ramon Sessions signs with Wizards for rest of season, giving them long-term insurance for John Wall

The Wizards have signed point guard Ramon Sessions for the rest of the 2017-18 season following the expiration of his second 10-day contract, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

Sessions, 31, has played in five games for the Wizards this season with averages of 7.2 points and 3.4 assists. He spent 13 games with the Knicks previously this season before first signing with the Wizards on Feb. 23. He signed his second 10-day contract on March 5.

The Wizards were only permitted to sign Sessions to two consecutive 10-day contracts per league rules. They had to decided at the end of the second deal whether to sign him for the rest of the season or release him to free agency.

"His reputation is amazing and rightfully so. He showed me and the staff that he comes and does his job every day," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He was more than deserving of the opportunity to stay here all year."


Sessions is eligible for their playoff roster if they do indeed make the postseason, as he was let go by New York before March 1. That was always going to be a consideration in their plans at the end of his second 10-day contract. If they were to go out and get someone else, the March 1 deadline would come back into play.

Sessions gives the Wizards depth at the point guard position along with Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier, who have collectively held down the fort with John Wall out recovering from left knee surgery. By keeping Sessions, the Wizards have another backup plan in place.

Brooks said on Friday that Wall will be placed back into the starting lineup immediately when he's ready to return. That was expected and it will have a domino effect on Sessions and the other guards once he is back. The minutes may dry up completely for Sessions, a 10-year NBA journeyman.

"You're gonna have guys that are going to have to be good teammates," Brooks said, suggesting the playing time would go away. "Sacrificing is a big part of this league."


Satoransky will be the primary backup to Wall and Sessions may be out of minutes alongside Frazier. Brooks did, however, note that Satoransky could spend time at shooting guard and small forward. That could theoretically open the door for Sessions or Frazier to get playing time.

Whether Sessions plays or not, he's happy to be in the fold. Though he often said the uncertainty of the 10-day deal didn't weight on him, he admitted on Friday that it wasn't easy to navigate.

"This was my first time doing a 10-day and those were probably the longest 20 days I've been a part of in the NBA," he said. "I'm just excited to be back here. D.C. is my home." 

The news was first reported by the Washington Post.

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