Maryland said Friday it has admitted Dezmine Wells, a highly coveted basketball player expelled by Xavier following a sexual assault allegation that a prosecutor said was unproven.
It's uncertain whether Wells will be able to play for the Terps this season. Maryland will soon seek an NCAA waiver -- the process is expected to take about three weeks -- under which the guard-forward would receive an exemption from the transfer rule and not be required to sit out a season.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of the request because Wells' case appears unique -- a player expelled from a school but backed by a prosecutor and never criminally charged.
"It'll be the first of its kind," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of the circumstances of the request.
With or without Wells, Maryland's team will have an entirely differently look from last season. It includes a freshman class rated as potentially one of the school's best in years.
Turgeon said Wells, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound swingman, "probably will become the most athletic player on our team right away. I do think we've got a good player -- a really good player."
Wells, who had also considered Kentucky among other schools, tweeted his intention Tuesday to come to Maryland.
Wells was not immediately admitted. Rather, the player had to undergo the sort of review required of any prospective student who has been disciplined by another institution or has a criminal record. Although a grand jury declined to charge Wells, the player's expulsion from Xavier, announced by the Cincinnati school last month, triggered the review by a Maryland student conduct office working with the university's office of undergraduate admissions.
Hamilton County (Ohio) Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters told The Baltimore Sun in an interview this week 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 said Wells has no criminal record and that, "I think Maryland's getting a good kid, I really do."
Xavier said it could not comment because of privacy considerations, and the accuser's name was withheld.
Turgeon said of Xavier: "I don't think they're going to try to stop Dez from playing this year. I think that will be a key component in his waiver."
Wells becomes the third transfer Maryland has landed this offseason, joining power forward Evan Smotrycz (Michigan) and shooting guard Logan Aronhalt (Albany). Smotrycz must sit out this season. Aronhalt can play immediately because he graduated from Albany and has enrolled in a graduate program in College Park.
Turgeon said he has "followed Dez for the past three years and I know he will be a good student-athlete and teammate."
Wells, who is from Raleigh, N.C., "knew some guys here," the coach said. "He knew some football players. He knew [Terps basketball guard] Nick Faust. All that helps."
Note: Turgeon also said injured Terps point guard Pe'Shon Howard, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament last season, is running and shooting and hopes to be nearly full-speed by mid-October. "Pe'Shon's doing fantastic," the coach said.