It's easy to exude leadership qualities under the scrutiny of college coaches during the recruiting process.
But what happens when nobody of significance is paying attention? What happens when an injury leaves an athlete unable to play for an entire season?
Ask Grovetown High School girls basketball coach Jaime Echols, and he'll tell you a story about Ebony Wells. He'll also tell you it's those down times when true character comes to light.
"She's a great leader," Echols said. "She was a great leader last year, even when she couldn't play.
"She was at every practice, sweeping the floors, giving them water," he noted. "She was doing whatever we needed her to do, and it spoke a lot about her character."
Wells is back healthy for her senior year after missing all of last season. She had surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in her knee, which she says might not be quite 100 percent yet, but doesn't require a brace.
"I'm very excited," said Wells, a co-captain alongside fellow senior Marianne Davignon. "I think we're going to have a pretty good team. We've just got to slow it down and play our game, rather than trying to play up to the speed or down to the level of our competition.
"If we play our game, we'll be fine."
Wells was an inside force during her freshman and sophomore seasons at Harlem High School with sister Nicole, now a sophomore on the Georgia Perimeter College basketball squad.
As a sophomore, Ebony Wells averaged 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while helping to lead the Bulldogs to a 24-4 record.
She got zoned for Grovetown High prior to her junior year, then suffered the knee injuries. She first injured the knee in March 2009. A slight tear turned into a full tear, leading to surgery in August 2009.
Still, her body of work -- and most of all her potential -- convinced Georgia Tech to fight for her signature.
She signed with the school prior to last season. However, a disagreement led Wells back into the pool of potential signees.
"They didn't want me to play volleyball," she said. "I needed a release from basketball. Since I got hurt, I was (rehabilitating) for like a year straight. So volleyball was going to be my release."
So, the two ended their relationship before it got off the ground.
She played half a season of volleyball this fall, then had to shift gears and get in basketball shape in order to go to a college exposure tournament.
Wells still has not made a decision on where she'll play after she graduates. Echols said numerous major college programs are in the mix, including Southeastern Conference schools.
"I was a little upset at first," Wells said of the Tech fallout. "Now I realize that everything happens for a reason. If that happened, that must not have been where I was supposed to go."
Major schools are interested because Wells has proved to be a matchup problem for opposing teams. She's 6-foot-2 and specializes in the post, but displays plenty of versatility and quickness on the block.
"I like to bang down low," she said. "That's what I'm most comfortable doing. ... I can also shoot from 15 feet and take it off the dribble from out there."
Echols said Wells is the type of player who's talented, but is a better person than she is a player. She leads on the court, both in her play and how she conducts herself in the recruiting process.
"All the girls know all these colleges are looking at her," Echols said. "They see that, but they also see how much she works. She doesn't just get it; she works."
The coach said the key this season will be to use Wells, but not depend completely on her talents inside. "It can't be the Ebony Wells show," Echols said. "It's got to be Grovetown."
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