|Dez Wells will now look to transfer to either Memphis, Louisville or Maryland. (US Presswire)|
There was no anger, no malice or animosity in his voice, despite the fact that Dezmine Wells had been expelled from Xavier for a crime that the grand jury had decided wasn't even worth pursuing. Instead, the 20-year-old Wells somehow remained complimentary of the school that had opted to jettison him shortly after rape allegations surfaced.
"It's been tough, but I am honestly thankful for everything Xavier has done for me," Wells told CBSSports.com on Tuesday night in his first interview since being tossed out of school.
I wouldn't be nearly as forgiving.
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However, the only school he visited throughout the recruiting process, the same one in which he was expected to evolve into a star over the next few years, decided to give him the heave-ho after last week's appeal. Maybe it was that Wells was thankful, following the news from the Hamilton County grand jury, that college basketball remained an option.
"I was worried," he admitted. "I wasn't sure, depending on how things worked out, whether I'd ever be able to play again."
But now Wells, who started every game he played last season and was set to assume the leadership duties as a sophomore, will begin to quickly sift through his options, taking visits to Memphis, Maryland and Louisville in the upcoming days before making a decision on his next destination. Xavier coach Chris Mack had repeatedly spoken glowingly of Wells throughout the past year, not about his talents -- but of his character.
"I didn't want to play anywhere else except for Xavier and Coach (Chris) Mack," Wells said.
But that's no longer an option.
There was a glimmer of hope that surfaced on Tuesday after the grand jury declined to charge Wells with a criminal offense. There was some thought that maybe Xavier would come to its senses and revisit the situation, allow the kid with the near-flawless reputation to return to campus. Instead, the school reiterated its position to expel Wells.
"I didn't think the process was fair. I went into it as guilty and having to prove my innocence instead of them having to prove that I was guilty," he said from his home in North Carolina. "I feel like everyone rushed the process and panicked. They went with a gut feel. I understand the severity of the accusations. Rape is one of the highest felonies in the world, but I think they just panicked."
"But I still appreciate everything that Xavier has done for me," he added.
Wells was quick to admit he shouldn't have put himself in the situation which resulted in his dismissal from the school, one which began with an innocent game of "Truth or Dare" and culminated with an allegation of sexual assault from a fellow student. He was also adamant that it was not rape, but consensual.
I don't know all the specifics of what occurred the night that triggered the allegations. No one does except for Wells and his accuser, but what I do know is these situations can become muddy. They happen on every campus and not just with athletes, but more often with regular students. In fact, recent incidents played a major role in why Wells wasn't allowed another opportunity to wear a Musketeers uniform.
Swift and decisive action hadn't been taken when it came to sexual assault incidents on the campus and the school was cited by The United States Department of Education for violating anti-discrimination laws after multiple sexual assault victims claimed not enough action was taken following their allegations.
"I do think what happened previously at Xavier affected what they did with me," Wells said.
Instead of getting rid of Wells, which is what the conduct board made up of faculty, students and administrators decided to do on Aug. 3, the school should have moved forward with far more precision and clarity. There's no rush to potentially ruin someone's name and their life. Suspend him from the team and maybe even for classes while allowing the judicial system to run its course, that's fine.
But to boot him from the university?
"There is something seriously flawed with a procedure where a young man and his accuser appear before a group of people, which I would suggest probably isn't very well-trained in assessing these types of cases, and they sit there and tell their stories," Prosecutor Joe Deters said on Tuesday. "No lawyers, nothing. There's just something wrong with that."
Wells felt a vindication of sorts Tuesday when the grand jury declined to indict him on a sexual assault charge, a sigh of relief he'd be able to continue his college basketball career, albeit it somewhere else. However, he also understands his name may forever be tarnished.
"It went as well as it could have gone," Wells said. "I've learned that people can come up with the wrong perception of you, but I'm still thankful of the fact that I can still play basketball and have a chance to take care of my family down the road."