When Dezmine Wells transferred to Maryland after being expelled from Xavier, the NCAA initially denied his requests to waive the normal transfer requirement that a player sit out for a season. The NCAA ruling meant that Wells would not get a chance to play against one of his high school rivals, senior Duke basketball forward Ryan Kelly.
But the NCAA officially reversed course Wednesday, approving Wells’ appeal despite its Oct. 26 decision to deny his waiver. The decision makes Wells eligible to suit up for the Terrapins this season. Wells was expelled from Xavier after his freshman season for sexual assault allegations, but a grand jury later deemed the charges unworthy of prosecution.
Wells, a 6-foot-5 swingman who averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in his freshman season, is a Raleigh native who played at Word of God Christian Academy in the city. Kelly, also a Raleigh native, played at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, and faced off against Wells in high school.
“My junior and senior year, that was kind of like the rivalry in Raleigh between the independent schools,” Kelly said. “I’m happy for him. Obviously what happened at his previous stop was kind of a mess.”
Both Kelly and Wells enjoyed successful high school careers. Kelly, a 2009 McDonald’s All-American, won the North Carolina Gatorade Player of that season and took Ravenscroft to three conference championships in his four years.
Wells, who played with notable names such as current Washington Wizards guard John Wall and N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie, took Word of God Christian Academy to two state titles.
“Now I get to play against another Raleigh native in the ACC. It’s pretty amazing really what the North Carolina independent schools have done in college basketball and beyond,” Kelly said. “Just in my short three and four years when I was at Ravenscroft, some really good players went through the independent school system, and you continue to see it.”
With Wells joining Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard, the Terrapins present a formidable core on the perimeter. Mark Turgeon’s squad should be dangerous in the post as well, with the return of the 7-foot-1 Alex Len and the addition of touted freshman center Shaquille Cleare.
“It’s good for Dez, and it’s not good for anybody who’s playing against him because he’s a heck of a player,” Kelly said. “I haven’t talked to him in a while. But if I saw him, we’d know each other right away.”