The NCAA has denied Maryland's initial request to permit guard-forward Dez Wells to play this season. Maryland plans to file an appeal.

Wells, 6 feet 5, who can play guard or small forward, was dismissed by Xavier after his freshman season after a sexual-assault allegation that a prosecutor said was unproven. "This would never go anywhere criminally," Hamilton County (Ohio) Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters said.

Wells was not charged, and he was accepted as a transfer by Maryland.

He has been practicing with the team and looked impressive in a recent scrimmage. There is little doubt he would immediately be one of the team's top players if cleared to play.

Maryland is seeking an NCAA waiver under which Wells would receive an exemption from the transfer rule and not be required to sit out a season. Xavier is cooperating with Maryland in its request on the player's behalf.

Maryland officials said they could not comment while the process continues.

The circumstances of the case are very unusual -- a player dismissed but then endorsed by a prosecutor -- making the outcome of the appeal difficult to predict.

"I'm just waiting to see what's going to happen," Wells said recently. "The anticipation does kind of build up. You kind of get like anxiety a little bit."