The news broke Thursday afternoon that Dezmine Wells, the former Atlantic 10 All-Freshman performer who was booted from school at Xavier, was not headed to Louisville as most every recruiting guru had thought, but was on campus in Lexington with the distinct possibility of committing to Kentucky.
That hasn’t happened yet, or at least not that has been announced. In fact, the 6-foot-5 swingman will apparently visit Maryland and Memphis before making a decision next week. (Believe it or not, Louisville is apparently out of scholarships.) I say apparently because at this point, especially with Wells, it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction.
It was less than a month ago that Wells was not just kicked off the Xavier basketball team but expelled from the school for what was termed as “a serious violation of the code of student conduct.”
That had to be a tough decision for the Muskies. After all, Wells averaged nearly 10 points and five rebounds last year as a freshman was the leading returning scorer for 2012-13 on what figured to be a young and rebuilding Xavier team, one which made the Sweet 16 a year ago.
The “serious violation” was apparently an alleged sexual assault that took place over the summer, one that the school deemed serious enough to take permanent action.
But then earlier this week, a Hamilton County grand jury failed to return an indictment against Wells on the matter. The Hamilton County prosecutor said he would not pursue the matter and even urged Xavier to “revisit” Wells’ status, a statement that seemed to turn the tide of public support in favor of the sophomore-to-be. Xavier has declined to do that.
So what’s the deal with Wells? He is a good kid unfairly accused? Or is he a bad kid who can’t stay out of trouble? After all, Wells was one of the principle characters involved in that ugly Xavier-Cincinnati Crosstown Shootout fight last season. In an attempt to defend teammate Tu Holloway, Wells pushed down UC’s Ge’Lawn Guyn, which appeared to escalate matters. The Xavier coaches had to hold Wells back from becoming involved in additional incidents.
Afterward, Wells was regretful, apologizing profusely, saying he had embarrassed his school and family. He still served a four-game suspension for the fight.
Those around the Xavier program vouch for Wells, saying he is a good kid who was well-liked by his teammates and coaches. He isn’t Mark Lyons, who often clashed with head coach Chris Mack and ended up, by mutual decision, leaving the program. Lyons visited Kentucky but ended up at Arizona, back with former coach Sean Miller.
Wells’ ties to Kentucky are mainly through his former high school teammate, John Wall. The two played together at Word of God in Raleigh, North Carolina where Wells won a couple of state titles before continuing on to Hargrave Military Academy and then Xavier.
Through three seasons under John Calipari there have been scant few personnel problems inside the basketball program. Oh, DeMarcus Cousins could be a knucklehead from time to time. Darnell Dodson was shown the door after one season. Stacey Poole transferred because he wanted more playing time. That’s about it.
When players have left the UK basketball program the past three years, it’s been to go to the NBA.
That’s not to say that the Cats should welcome Wells with open arms. Whatever happened at Xavier was serious enough for the school to take a strong stand. Due diligence must be performed. Questions asked and answered. In this case, truth and fiction are not easily separated.
One more thing, with regard to Wells possibly receiving a transfer rule waiver to be eligible immediately, this tweet last night from Jeff Goodman.
Sounds unlikely the more people I talk to that Dez Wells would receive waiver to play this season.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) August 29, 2012