Brittany Wells makes her presence felt on the basketball court — often without even touching the ball.
Wells showcases her exceptional speed and tenacity on the defensive end, where she is known for hounding opponents’ best ballhandlers.
Starting in the fall of 2012, Wells will take those skills — and others — to the University of Maine. The 5-foot-8 guard from Indianapolis has made a verbal commitment to accept a basketball scholarship from UMaine.
Wells becomes the first recruit for new Black Bears head coach Richard Barron, who is prohibited by NCAA rules from talking about Wells until UMaine receives her signed National Letter of Intent.
One person happy to talk about Wells was her AAU coach, Danny Riego of the Indy Gym Rats Riego squad.
“She is as athletic a guard as you’ll see,” Riego said. “Baseline to baseline, I don’t know that we’ve played many players that are quicker than her.”
Wells had initially given a verbal commitment in 2010 to Indiana State but subsequently changed her mind. She selected UMaine over Indiana University-Purdue University Indiananapolis, according to a published report.
Riego said Wells came to the attention of Barron through contact with Jason Coleman, who in March was hired as the boys basketball coach at his alma mater, Orono High School. Riego said Coleman was his righthand man with the Indy Gym Rats while he was living in Indianapolis for a couple of years and also coached Wells.
Riego said once Barron had identified Wells as a player he would like to coach, he and the UMaine staff demonstrated resolve in making that happen.
“He’s a tremendous recruiter,” Riego said. “He’ll take that program in the right direction. Seeing Maine following a team from Indiana, multiple times, showed he was committed to Brittany Wells from the beginning. It’s a testament to his evaluation (process).”
Wells, who also has been a sprinter on her schools’ track teams, has gained attention because of her defensive prowess.
“She always drew our toughest on-ball assignment,” Riego said. “She takes a lot of pride in how hard she plays defense, particularly on the ball.”
Riego said Wells is adept at stealing the ball and beating opponents back down the floor for a layup. She likes to attack the basket in transition situations, but also emerged this summer as one of her team’s top 3-point shooters.
Wells began her high school career at Hamilton Southeastern in Fishers, Ind., but last summer transferred to Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis. Because Hamilton Southeastern would not sign a release for her transfer, Wells was ruled ineligible and was not allowed to play varsity basketball at Heritage Christian.
Instead, she competed on the JV squad.
Riego said Heritage Christian is a girls basketball powerhouse, where this season Wells will play with University of Indiana-bound point guard Brittany Webb. The two also played together on Riego’s AAU squad.
Wells’ participation at UMaine is contingent upon her acceptance by the school and compliance with NCAA initial-eligibility guidelines.