This season, Wells has become the Raiders go-to guy. And with the offense running through the 6-foot-2 junior, opposing defenses have had headaches trying to slow down Reed’s up-tempo game.
Wells’ style of play is a mixture of a frantic pace and a certain ease. In the blink of an eye he will soar high to grab a defensive rebound and race up court, zig-zagging between defenders as though they are ankle-high in sand. The next moment, the blur of Wells that had just sped from one end of the court to the other, will stop mid stride, rise up and let the ball softly push from his fingertips gently through the basket.
While the time put in during the offseason is one contributing factor, Wells said the main reason for his success is his supporting cast.
“I think the biggest thing has just been my teammates’ confidence in me,” he said. “They’ve just allowed me to try and get the tempo moving. That’s what our team is based on and trying to get the game going faster. This year I’m really just grasping the concept of how we want to play. So their confidence in me has really helped me.
“Their confidence means a lot. Whenever I mess up, my teammates pick me up and it feels like I didn’t even make a mistake. They really just make me feel like if I do mess up that I can just keep trying because they still have faith in me. That really helps and I know sooner or later I’ll start making plays, and if I don’t, I know my teammates will be there to back me up.”
That fearless mentality is something that Reed coach Dustin Hall said started with the dedication in the offseason and has helped Wells become one of the premier players in the North.
“Trae is a very talented player and he always has been,” Hall said. “He definitely plays with a lot of confidence. Even when he was much younger he was always talented and has always been really skilled. I think this year he’s just getting a little bit more of an opportunity now that it’s his time to be one of our leaders. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and it really started last spring. When we started playing spring ball, he kind of just established himself as one of the better players in the area and he’s just kind of carried that into the season.
“He works hard. A big part of his game is his strength and he puts a lot of time in the weight room. I really just think he’s growing up and he’s maturing. He’s really developing. I think he’s just starting to realize he’s as good as just about anybody in the area and now he’s beginning to play with that confidence and that swagger.”
Wells leads the Raiders in a slew of categories, including scoring (18.4 per game), field goal percentage (49), rebounding (7.3) and steals (1.8). Wells is also tied with teammate Ty Shepard for first in assists with 2.3 per contest. Last season, he averaged 5.2 points and 2.1 boards.
A large difference in Wells’ style of play this season has been his aggressiveness. It is something that has fueled the Raiders thus far.
“All the kids have a lot of confidence in Trae because they see what he does day in and day out in practice,” Hall said. “We have a lot of capable scorers on our team, but he just has a natural feel and a natural knack for just scoring the ball. It’s fun to watch him compete because he doesn’t just score the basketball. He’s a kid who makes everyone on the court better when he’s in there.
"He has a really good feel for getting into the paint and then reading whether to put up a little six or eight-footer, or dumping it off to one of our post guys or kicking out to a shooter. He really has a knack for reading the defense and most of the time he makes the right decision. He really triggers our transition. When he rebounds the ball, he doesn’t necessarily have to make an outlet pass. He’s the type of guy who can get a rebound and then push it up the court himself because he can handle the ball so well. That allows us to get out and work.”
And work is exactly what Wells wants, especially when he is slicing through the forests’ of post players he regularly finds in the key.
“I think I’ve matured more as a player from last year. I definitely try to lead by example,” he said. “I am not very good at being a vocal leader. I would much rather go work hard on defense and pick my team up that way. Through that I just try to motivate everyone else and get them pumped up and that’s what I like to do.”