In a scrimmage during practice early last week, Maryland men's basketball forward Damonte Dodd went up to set a screen for guard Dion Wiley.
But when the two saw guard Jared Nickens reading the move on defense, Dodd faked the pick and Wiley instead drove to the baseline. The redshirt sophomore looked to rise up for a left-handed layup before pulling the ball back, going under the rim and covering from the right side. He beat three defenders with the sequence.
As Dodd watched what he called a "Julius Erving play" unfold, he marveled at his teammate's skills a year after Wiley sat out the season with a torn meniscus.
"I was like, 'Sheesh, not too many people can do something like that,'" Dodd said at Big Ten men's basketball media day. "So I'm like, 'Oh yeah, he's back. He's back. He's feeling good about himself.'"
Coach Mark Turgeon echoed Dodd's sentiments during his podium session Thursday at the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington.
The sixth-year coach said Wiley is "85 to 90 percent" healthy from last season's injury. He tore his meniscus days before the team's season opener and spent the campaign rehabbing from surgery while the Terps made their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003.
As a freshman in the 2014-15 season, Wiley averaged 4.1 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. While his consistency wavered, the Potomac product nailed a 3-pointer in the team's NCAA tournament opening-round win against Valparaiso, which Turgeon referenced Thursday.
Before the injury derailed his sophomore campaign, Turgeon said, Wiley had built on the experience and emerged as a force in the backcourt.
This offseason, Wiley had trimmed his weight — "great for the knee," Turgeon said — and improved his passing and defense.
"It's been a long road, a long recovery," Turgeon said. "When the ball is in his hands, he's a terrific player. He's one of our better passers. He's one of our better players in ball screens, and that says a lot when you have Melo [Trimble] on your team.
"Really hopeful that he can continue to rehab and get better and close to 100 percent. He's going to be a spark for our team this year."
His teammates have noticed his growth, too. When Trimble reflected on the new additions to this year's squad, which touts six freshmen, he highlighted Wiley as perhaps the team's most improved player.
"I've seen him work all summer," Trimble said. "It's frustrating to miss the season, but, you know, with the kind of [injury] he had, it wasn't really possible. So for him to come back and play the way he's playing is really exciting to see."