Dezmine Wells was supposed to be Xavier’s top returning player for the 2012-13 season.
So Wells is now looking for a new school, and Kentucky could be a possibility.
Scout.com recruiting analyst Brian Snow, who covered Xavier for several years, told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that UK is one of the schools showing “preliminary” interest in Wells.
Xavier would not release the details of Wells’ expulsion. Several reports have said he was the subject of a police investigation but would not be charged with any crimes.
Wells started 32 of 36 games for the Musketeers last season, averaging 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds. He was suspended for four games in the middle of the season due to his role in Xavier’s brawl with rival Cincinnati.
Despite his troubles at Xavier, Snow said college coaches shouldn’t worry about Wells being a problem at a new school.
“If I was a college coach at absolutely any and every school in the country I would have no problem offering Dez Wells a scholarship,” he said.
Wells has plenty of talent. He was a consensus top-50 recruit in the class of 2011 after finishing his prep career at Hargrave Military Academy, which was coached at the time by current Louisville assistant Kevin Keatts.
Hometown N.C. State is among the other schools being mentioned in connection with Wells’ latest recruitment.
Snow said Wells, who can play shooting guard or small forward, would be a solid addition to any team in the country.
“He’s very good and I think he’s someone that has the ability to play in the NBA one day,” Snow said. “That’s not to say he’s an NBA player right now, because he isn’t. But he’s someone that averaged 10 points and five rebounds a game on a team that was very good. As freakishly athletic as they come. Physically ready for the Marines. He’s someone who has a ton of ability and he’s getting better as a basketball player. I think he can play anywhere in the country.”
This wouldn’t be Kentucky’s first flirtation with a transfer with a questionable past.
Tony Woods left Wake Forest in 2010 after pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor assault on a female. John Calipari wanted him at UK, and Woods visited Lexington and met with Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and then-president Lee Todd.
Fan reaction to UK’s recruitment of Woods was mixed, and he eventually ended up at Oregon.
But Snow said Wells’ case isn’t the same.
“I would say it was different because (Woods) was at least charged with a crime,” he said. “Anyone with a computer can look up the Hamilton County Circuit Court in Ohio. There are no charges against (Wells).”
Wells would almost certainly have to sit out the 2012-13 season as a transfer. Snow said whichever school lands him could theoretically petition the NCAA for immediate eligibility due to the fact that he was not given the opportunity to return to Xavier and was not charged with a crime.
But Snow concedes that would probably be a losing proposition.
“For PR reasons, I don’t see the NCAA going, “Well, we’re going to reward a kid for being expelled,’” he said. “I don’t see the NCAA doing that.”
If he is forced to sit out a season, Wells could face a logjam of talent at UK in 2013. The Cats are expected to get commitments from guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison, small forward Andrew Wiggins (if he reclassifies) and possibly guard/forward James Young.
That would mean a battle for playing time, but Snow said Wells would be up for the challenge. He also said Wells would fit Calipari’s — or any other coach’s — style of play.
“If there’s a system he doesn’t fit, they need to change the system.”