Before the Maryland men's basketball team's 96-43 win over Maryland Eastern Shore on Sunday, coach Mark Turgeon sat down with guard Dion Wiley.
Turgeon acknowledged the past two years weren't fun for Wiley, who entered College Park in 2014 as a four-star recruit but has since battled injuries. Wiley redshirted his sophomore year due to a torn meniscus, and he averaged 3.2 points in 20 games last year while nursing foot soreness.
Despite those issues as an underclassman, Wiley had ample support from Turgeon, who encouraged him to remain confident, shoot more and focus on improving his defense and rebounding. He said Wiley should make the most of his remaining time with the program.
That message paid off as Wiley tied his season-high from last season with 13 points on Sunday. He's shot 4-for-9 on threes in the Terps' first two games combined, and hopes to continue his shooting success when Maryland faces its first test of the season against Butler on Wednesday.
"Those two years kind of held me back a little bit," Wiley said. "These next two years can actually mold my college career."
247Sports ranked Wiley the nation's 52nd-best recruit prospect in 2014 largely because of his stellar shot. He averaged 4.1 points his freshman year, playing behind a talented backcourt of Melo Trimble, Dez Wells and Jake Layman.
Wiley was supposed to be a key piece of Maryland's Sweet 16 team the following season, but the Oxon Hill native missed the entire campaign. With four starters from that team gone, Wiley again dealt with injury problems last season, never settling into a defined rotation role after his setback.
Turgeon said Wiley is healthy again, though, and the redshirt junior has been the first guard off the Terps' bench during its opening two games.
Maryland's offense was sluggish during the first three minutes Sunday, but Wiley provided a spark when he entered, knocking down consecutive threes. Though the 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard rarely shows emotion during games, he cracked a smirk after his second trey.
Wiley also displayed more physicality, twice finishing and-one layups after grabbing an offensive rebound. He averaged just 1.5 rebounds per game last season.
"For us to be the team defensively that I want us to be, he has to do more than just score," Turgeon said. "He has to rebound and defend for us."
Jaylen Brantley was Maryland's first guard off the bench last season, averaging 4.9 points per game while shooting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc before transferring to Massachusetts this offseason. The Terps also lost their leading scorer from the past three seasons when Trimble left.
Following those departures, Maryland entered the year in search of another shooting spark off its bench to help make its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament. Wiley appears the frontrunner for that role with Big Ten play beginning in less than three weeks.
"He's been through a lot in his career," guard Jared Nickens said, "so to see him get back to this point is very pleasing."