In an opening game between two largely inexperienced teams, Maryland got a boost Wednesday when the NCAA changed course and declared sophomore Dez Wells eligible.
Wells, a key player for Xavier's NCAA Tournament team last season, will play against Kentucky on Friday, Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said,
"He is in great shape," Turgeon told reporters Wednesday. "He has been practicing every day. ... He is a major part of the game plan moving forward."
Wells averaged 26.1 minutes, 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds for Xavier last season. He made 37.7 percent of his three-point shots (20 of 53).
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An off-court incident allegedly involving sexual misconduct prompted Xavier to dismiss Wells from the team. No charges were filed and his attorney criticized Xavier's actions as unwarranted.
Kentucky showed recruiting interest in Wells, who visited UK's campus before transferring to Maryland.
Wells gained immediate eligibility by appealing to the NCAA Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief, which is made up of athletics administrators from around the country.
Its decision overturned the NCAA staff decision denying the waiver of the requirement of transfers to sit out a season.
Turgeon noted how Wells, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound wing, brings NCAA Tournament experience to Maryland.
"He understands what it takes," the Maryland coach said. "He gives us depth and versatility. ... It gives every player more confidence because he makes everyone better around him. He gives every coach on our staff, including me, more confidence that we can be a good team."