NCAA

NCAA clears Dez Wells to play for Maryland

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NCAA clears Dez Wells to play for Maryland

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. 

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

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After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.

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Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."