You’ve surely heard by now: Xavier’s leading returning scorer Dezmine Wells, an uber-athletic small forward that averaged 9.8 ppg last season, was expelled from school on Tuesday afternoon.
“The Xavier University Conduct Board (UCB), made up of faculty, students and administrators, found Xavier sophomore and basketball player Dezmine Wells responsible for a serious violation of the Code of Student Conduct,” the University said in a press release. “The punishment for the violation is expulsion from the University. While we understand there is heightened interest in this situation because it involves a student-athlete, we must reiterate that first and foremost Xavier’s interest and responsibility to all of our students is to provide a quality education in a safe and nurturing environment. A serious violation of Xavier’s Code of Student Conduct will not be tolerated. All Xavier students are subject to the same protections and consequences.”
According to a tweet from CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman, the punishment was “related to [a] sexual incident”, but no charges were filed.
Obviously, this is a massive blow to a Xavier team that couldn’t afford the loss. With Mark Lyons transferring and Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease graduating, Chris Mack’s team is going to struggle to compete in what should be a loaded Atlantic 10. There is talent on the roster -- freshman Semaj Christon and Towson transfer Isaiah Philmore join returnees Justin Martin, Jeff Robinson and Travis Taylor -- but Xavier’s “go-to guy” next season averaged 4.5 points and 3.7 boards after transferring in from Monmouth.
Xavier’s been to the NCAA tournament seven straight seasons and 12 times in the last 13 years. I’m not sure I’d have them finishing in the top half of a 16 team A-10 as of today. That’s significant. (Although, to be clear, I don’t think Wells would have been a difference-maker this season. He doesn’t make them a competitor for the conference title, but he would bring the Muskies closer to the bubble.)
But there’s a bigger issue here: this is yet another black eye on a program that currently looks like it went five rounds with Anderson Silva. Despite having the talent to be a top ten team last season, the Musketeers backed their way into the NCAA tournament after a midseason brawl with Cincinnati exposed their lack of leadership. Lyons parted ways with Xavier despite having a chance to takeover the role of star point guard on a team that desperately needed a senior to take control. Frease and Holloway didn’t exactly come off looking like saints after the brawl. And don’t forget that it was Wells shoving Bearcat freshman Ge’Lawn Guyn that turned an emotionally charged game into a Royal Rumble.
Personally, I don’t think a fresh start is necessarily a bad thing for Chris Mack right now.