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NCAA clears Dez Wells to play for Terps

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NCAA clears Dez Wells to play for Terps

The University of Maryland men's basketball team received great news a few days in advance of the teams matchup against the University of Kentucky when the NCAA announced that sophomore transfer Dez Wells is immediately eligible to play.

Wells transferred to Maryland from Xavier University after being expelled following a sexual assault allegation. A grand jury declined to prosecute Wells on the charges amid controversy over how the school handled the allegations.  When Wells decided to transfer from Xavier to Maryland, the Terps asked the NCAA to waive the mandatory one-year period where transfers can practice with the team but not play in games.

The NCAA initially denied the waiver request, but Maryland appealed that decision. After considering the appeal, the NCAA Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief decided to make Wells immediately eligible for competition.

“We’re excited for Dez because at the end of the day, the NCAA made the right decision,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement. “Our staff did an incredible job in putting this NCAA waiver appeal together on Dez’s behalf. Dez has been a welcomed addition, a great teammate, and has made a seamless transition in getting acclimated to our campus. This has been a long process for him and his family, and we’re grateful he can put it behind him and focus on being a student-athlete at the University of Maryland.”

The 6'5", 215 lb. Wells, who won Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year honors during his lone year at Xavier, will fill a critical role for the Terps as a scorer with explosive athletic ability. The announcement comes at a great time for Maryland, with the matchup against the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats coming on Friday night. Wells should be able to replace some of the scoring load left vacant with the departure of last year's leading scorer Terrell Stoglin, who left the program over the summer after a rules violation.

“We’re very happy for Dez as the NCAA legislative relief process provided him with complete and fair due process,” Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said in a statement. “Our staff was personally invested in the NCAA waiver and appeal process because it was in the best interest of our student-athlete. We’re pleased that Dez will be able to move forward and experience all the opportunities that come with being a student-athlete at the University of Maryland.”

Wells, considered the highest-rated recruit in the history of the Xavier program, averaged just under 10 points a game as a freshman at Xavier. Once news broke that Wells would leave Xavier, the recruitment process began anew. Wells selected Maryland over Kentucky, among other elite college basketball programs. Maryland assistant coach Bino Ransom, who had a relationship with Wells from his days as an assistant coach at Xavier, was instrumental in bringing Wells to Maryland.

What remains to be seen is how Wells will fit into the Terps lineup. In the teams only action so far this season, an uninspired 73-61 exhibition win over Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Maryland trotted out a starting lineup of Pe'Shon Howard, Nick Faust, Jake Layman, James Padgett and Alex Len. With Wells' talent and experience, he could immediately enter the starting lineup over the freshman Layman. 

What Terp fans do know is that the Maryland team immediately improves with the addition of Wells, a player many scouts consider to be an eventual NBA player. Coach Turgeon now has even more depth and options on a team with an opportunity in an Atlantic Coast Conference that appears to be more open than in years past.

Some basketball pundits have said that with Wells Maryland becomes an NCAA tournament team with a chance at breaking into the Top 20. The Terps now have dynamic wing players with Faust, Wells and the freshman Layman.

The frontcourt, led by the 7-foot sophomore Len and supplemented by freshmen Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, should see a little more room to operate from opposing defenses due to the speed and athleticism of Wells on the wing. Additionally, Maryland's shooters could be the recipients of collapsing defenses as Wells or Faust attack the rim, leaving open shots along the three-point line for Howard, Layman, or impressive freshman Seth Allen.

Wells also gives Turgeon another fast defender to apply pressure to the opposition. From any angle, the addition of Wells is a boost for the Terps.

The first test for Maryland will be a big one, playing No. 3 ranked Kentucky at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night. By granting Wells immediate eligibility, that game suddenly becomes much more interesting. 

 

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Maryland lands a graduate transfer commitment from Duke

Maryland lands a graduate transfer commitment from Duke

The Maryland Terrapins snagged former Duke player Sean Obi as a graduate transfer, the school announced on Thursday. He didn't play last season due to knee surgury that he underwent last summer. 

Obi began his college career at Rice during the 2013-14 season, and posted 11.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. After his freshman season at Rice, he transferred to Duke where he had to sit out 2014-15 season, per NCAA rules. In his lone season as a Blue Devil, Obi played in just 10 games and averaged 0.5 points per game. As a graduate transfer, Obi will be eligible to play for Maryland immediately. 

We are excited to welcome Sean to Maryland," said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. "As a graduate transfer, he brings high character, experience and maturity to our team. Sean is a good rebounder and gives us another physical presence inside. Sean is healthy and ready to contribute."

Obi, who is 6-9, could provide Maryland help on the offensive and defensive boards in 2017 after they ranked 300th in the country in defensive rebound percentage. 

More College Hoops: Former VCU Basketball star signs with Indianapolis Colts

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Mystics select Maryland's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough in WNBA Draft, Brionna Jones also taken in the 1st Round

Mystics select Maryland's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough in WNBA Draft, Brionna Jones also taken in the 1st Round

BY TYLER BYRUM (@theTylerByrum)

For the sixth straight year, a Maryland Terrapin has been taken in the WNBA Draft. This draft though marks the third time ever that two Terps, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones, were selected in the First Round.

With the sixth overall pick (traded from the Seattle Storm), the Washington Mystics decided to select a local talent, Walker-Kimbrough. The three time All-Big Ten First Team selection will go down as one of the best  guards to ever dawn a Maryland jersey even with the team's illustrious history. At 5'11", she holds the Terps all-time three point shooting percentage mark and is the program's second all-time leading scorer. This past season, which ended in a Sweet 16 run for the team, the AP Third Team All-American was named one of the 15 finalists for the Wooden Award as the national player of the year.

To get the Maryland standout, the Mystics acquired Seattle’s first round pick back in January that was part of a three-team trade. By Washington sending Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn to the Liberty, the Storm acquired Carolyn Swords and thus sending their pick to the Mystics. 

Walker-Kimbrough is just another weapon added to the Mystics roster this off-season. Alongside the versatile Elena Delle-Donne, the Maryland grad will be yet another player opponents will have to matchup against, especially when second units are put on the court. Her offense will be huge for a team that had the third worst offensive numbers in the league, but her defense will add to the physicality the Mystics display on the court. 

Another former Terp (who guided Maryland to an NCAA title) and WNBA champion, Kristi Toliver also was picked up this past off-season by the Mystics after she won a title with the Sparks in 2016. Tianna Hawkins, a 2013 Maryland grad, is also listed on the team's roster.

Other selections for the Mystics in the 2017 draft include Jennie Simms from Old Dominion (18th overall) and Mehryn Kraker from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (27th overall).

Not too long after Walker-Kimbrough was taken, Jones was selected by the Connecticut Sun as the eighth overall pick of the draft. As a 6'3" center she lead the NCAA in field goal percentage the past two seasons. In the Big Ten, she currently holds the conference best career field goal percentage. She was also a finalist for the Wooden Award this past year, while being named an AP First Team All-American.

For the Sun, Jones will be a huge addition to their interior defense who allowed opponents to score 84.3 ppg, the third highest in the WNBA. She will also look to boost their offensive rebounding numbers as it is anticipated she will have to come off the bench. 

This draft is the first since 2009 that Maryland had two First Round picks, the team also saw two first rounders the year prior in 2008.

The overall number one pick of the draft was Washington's Kelsey Plum, who set the NCAA scoring record for points all-time and in a single season. She is heading to the worst offense in the WNBA, the San Antonio Stars. 

MORE MYSTICS: Delle-Donne joins John Wall and Bradley Beal for photoshoot