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.
Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?