Two days before facing defending national champion Kentucky in its season opener, the University of Maryland received major news on Wednesday as the NCAA has cleared Xavier transfer Dez Wells to play this season. The 6-foot-5 sophomore is eligible to play immediately.
The request of Maryland to waive Wells’ requirement to sit out this season was initially denied by the NCAA on Oct. 26. But a five-member legislative council – made up of athletics administrators from around the country – overturned the decision.
Wells was dismissed from Xavier last summer after a sexual assault allegation. Wells was exonerated through the legal system, but Xavier stood by its decision, and he moved on to Maryland.
“We are happy for Dez as the NCAA legislative relief process provided him with complete and fair due process,” Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a statement. “Our staff was personally invested in the NCAA waiver and appeal process because it was in the best interest of our student-athlete.”
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon echoed Anderson’s words.
“We’re excited for Dez because at the end of the day, the NCAA made the right decision,” Turgeon said in a statement. “Our staff did an incredible job in putting this NCAA waiver appeal together on Dez’s behalf. Dez has been a welcomed addition, a great teammate, and has made a seamless transition in getting acclimated to our campus.”
The addition of Wells, who averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds for a team that reached the Sweet 16 last year, is a huge boost for Maryland, after the departure of ACC scoring leader Terrell Stoglin and second-leading scorer Sean Mosley.
In a 20-minute intra-squad scrimmage on Oct. 20 that was open to the public, Wells appeared to be the most polished offensive player on the floor, hitting all seven of his shots from the floor, including a 3-pointer. He was especially effective in the open floor driving for five layups, most of them contested. Turgeon held Wells out of Friday’s exhibition victory over Division II Indiana (Pa.) last week.
Wells will join a six-player rotation at three guard slots, including Pe’Shon Howard, Logan Aronhalt, Nick Faust and freshmen Seth Allen and Jake Layman. The addition of Wells also gives Turgeon more flexibility in the lineu, allowing him to use the 6-6 Faust at the point or the 6-8 Layman at the power forward position.