Former Xavier player Dezmine Wells, a rising sophomore wing, visited Kentucky today according to various sources. It was reported earlier this week that Wells was considering Louisville, Memphis, and Maryland as possible transfer destinations. However, with Louisville having maxed its scholarship allocation for the 2012-13 year, it appears Kentucky is the beneficiary.
Wells averaged 9.8 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game as a freshman for the Musketeers. He was expected to take on a leadership role following the graduation of Tu Holloway and the transfer of Mark Lyons. However, Wells was recently expelled from the university following allegations of sexual assault.
Earlier this week, the Grand Jury in Hamilton County, Ohio declined to charge Wells with any criminal offense after reviewing the evidence, or lack thereof. Despite the grand jury verdict, Xavier decided to uphold its decision to expel, leaving Wells in search of another program. Both Wells and the Xavier fan base remain perplexed by the school's rash decision.
Wells' visit today caught the recruiting world by surprise. According to Ben Roberts at the Lexington Herald-Leader, Wells can still enroll in time for the fall semester, if he chooses Kentucky. The Wildcats have plenty of available scholarships following the early entry exodus of most of their core players this summer.
The window for students to add and drop classes at UK closed at midnight Tuesday, but Wells can still enroll at the university this fall.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton told the Herald-Leader that a prospective student can still apply to the university. That student’s admission would then become a decision for the particular college to which the student applies. Blanton said the college’s dean would typically make the final judgment.
Wells would likely have to sit out a year per transfer requirements, though he could conceivably apply for a hardship transfer waiver. Per John Infante of the Bylaw Blog, a hardship transfer waiver is typically granted when a player is "compelled to transfer because of financial hardship or an injury or illness to the student-athlete or a member of their family." A study by ESPN's Eamonn Brennan found that roughly half of undergraduate transfer waivers have been approved since 2007.
Since Wells' situation is neither financial nor family-related, it seems doubtful that such a waiver would be granted. In that case, he would sit out a year and have three years of eligibility remaining starting in the 2013-14 season.
While Wells would certainly be a dynamic pickup for the Wildcats, it does beg the question of what the coaching staff plans to do with the 2013 recruiting class. Kentucky is currently high on wings Aaron Harrison (Travis / Richmond, TX) and James Young (Rochester / Rochester, MI), both ranked top 10 overall in the 2013 class. The Wildcats are also considered co-favorites for Andrew Wiggins (Huntington Prep / Toronto, Ont), the consensus top player in the 2014 class. Many people expect Wiggins will reclassify to 2013, leaving a plethora of wing players for Kentucky to recruit.
Adding Wells would surely cloud the picture, but also give Kentucky an early assurance for its 2013-14 team. Wells plans to visit Memphis on Thursday and Maryland this weekend. A decision should be made by early next week in order for Wells to enroll in time for his fall semester to count towards his eligibility clock and requirements.