It won't be much longer before second-year coach Mark Turgeon has Maryland nationally relevant again.
Turgeon accelerated Maryland's rebuilding process Monday morning when he landed a commitment from Dez Wells, the standout sophomore expelled from Xavier last month amid allegations of sexual assault. Wells, who will not be charged with a crime, also visited Memphis, Oregon and Kentucky in the past week.
"The last couple of weeks have been the toughest time in my life for my family and I," Wells wrote via Twitter on Monday morning. "I've learned that it is a major responsibility that comes with being a student athlete at all times. I'm thankful that God has blessed me with a second opportunity to continue my education."
The remaining question now that Wells has made his decision is whether he'll have to sit out a full year or not.
Maryland will pursue a waiver to allow him to play next season, but it seems unlikely the NCAA would grant it. Even though Xavier may have acted rashly in kicking Wells out of school when the evidence was insufficient for him to even be charged with a crime, it would be a tough precedent for the NCAA to set enabling a transfer expelled from his previous school to play right away.
Regardless of when Wells first dons a Maryland jersey, he'll be an impact addition for the Terps.
Wells, a 6-5 sophomore, started 32 games as a freshman at Xavier last year and averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds on a veteran team. He would have been the obvious choice to assume the role of go-to scorer for the Musketeers next season after the departure of Mark Lyons, Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease.
If Wells joins Maryland next season, he'll help the Terrapins make up for the loss of last year's leading scorer Terrell Stoglin and contend for their first NCAA tournament bid in three years. Maryland would have an enviable collection of young talent with Pe'Shon Howard at point guard, Wells and promising sophomore Nick Faust at wing, sophomore Alex Len at center and strong freshman class to provide depth.
It's the 2013-14 season that could truly mark Maryland's return to college basketball's elite assuming the young talent in the program sticks around that long. The Terps are battling Kentucky for twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, two of the Class of 2013's elite players.
Maryland is clearly trending in a good direction under Turgeon. The addition of Wells, whether it's this season or next, only helps that.
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