Several weeks ago, media members watched a Maryland basketball scrimmage at Comcast Center. The guy we noticed -- it was hard not to -- seemed a little more advanced than his teammates. There was a confidence and a smoothness to Dez Wells.
In one sequence, Wells stole the ball and banked in a layup high off the board. He followed moments later with a 3-pointer. He did it with a bandage over his left wrist and thumb to cover a cut that had come when he slid on the floor.
I don't want to hype Wells too much. But Maryland's successful NCAA appeal, allowing the transfer to play immediately this season, means the Terps not only get a player who is good, but one who clearly knows his way around the court. He has court presence.
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On a team with so much new -- but raw -- talent, it's big for Maryland to be able to plug in a player who already has developed a feel for the college game. He's been practicing with Maryland and -- although he was not permitted to play in last Friday night's exhibition -- he's already becoming ingrained into coach Mark Turgeon's system.
Turgeon said Wednesday that Maryland has been using Wells in practice as if he were going to be eligible this season. That was a calculated risk, but it may pay off now.
"He’ll be out there [Friday night] -- how much I don’t know," said Turgeon, who indicated he was still working on a starting lineup for Kentucky. "He’s a major part of the game plan moving forward."
Turgeon said there was a lot of emotion surrounding the NCAA decision, which the coach told Wells about this morning. "There were a lot of people crying this morning," the coach said.
For those unfamiliar with his history, here's a recap:
Wells, 6 feet 5, who can play guard or small forward, was dismissed by Xavier after his freshman season following a sexual-assault allegation that a prosecutor said was unproven. He was not charged.
Hamilton County (Ohio) Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters told me that Wells "was the unfortunate recipient of a bad process [at Xavier]. This would never go anywhere criminally."
Deters said the sexual-assault allegation was lodged after a game of "truth or dare" involving three females and three males. Wells and the accuser "knew each other [and] they were in a sexual situation totally consensual until the very last seconds, and that's where their stories diverged," Deters said.
Deters added that Wells has no criminal record. "I think Maryland's getting a good kid, I really do," he said.
Maryland sought a waiver under which the player would receive an exemption from the transfer rule and not be required to sit out a season.
Maryland told me Xavier was supportive of Maryland's case and wanted what's best for the player. The Terps learned today that the appeal was successful.