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Player Preview: Dez Wells

Few freshmen have ever arrived on Xavier's campus with the promise of 6'5", 215lb swing man Dezmine Wells. Out of Hargrave Military Academy Wells was thought of highly enough to be the 48th best player, and 14th at his position, on ESPN's high school recruiting rankings last year. had him 45th in the nation, and internet gurus the world over raved at his ability. His overall scout grade of 95 meant that the Xavier recruit landed farther up the chart than the top recruits from noted powers like Kansas and UCLA. In signing with Xavier, Dez spurned offers from BCS schools in order to land in Ohio.

All the hype in the world doesn't matter if there isn't talent to match. If the performance Wells put on in Musketeer Madness is any indication, talent won't be an issue. Wells followed Jordan Crawford, Stanley Burrell, and David West out of Hargrave Military, but played his senior year for Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C, where he averaged 19.8 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. His talents there were unquestioned, but he chose for one more year of seasoning.

What sets Wells apart though, is not his rebounding or passing, it's his freakish athleticism. Any quick Google of his name will leave you with results filled with odes to his ability to play above the rim on both ends and finish in traffic. The Hargrave post-graduate squad he played for was loaded with talent and was said to have the best backcourt in prep school ball. (Marquis Rankin and P.J. Hairston were also on the team). With others grabbing headlines, Dez Wells was left time to polish his game. How well he did that in his year between high school and Xavier could go a long way in determining how many weekends the Musketeers see in March.

Best Case: Dez Wells dons his preferred #5 and is a starter from the off. Wells especially impressed with the physical style of his play in high school, and that carries right over into college. Dez' willingness to get at the rim and make a living at the free throw line make he and Tu Holloway a high scoring tandem very few teams can hope to contain. Most noticeable though, is the commitment to defense he brings for a freshman. Scouts raved over how willing a high flying player was to bear down and attack an opponent on the defensive end. Now, a year on, Wells takes a chiseled frame and uses it to force smaller guards farther and farther away from the basket. A backcourt of Wells, Mark Lyons, and Holloway terrorizes the A10 on the way to a long March/April run.

Worst Case: Wells dominates early in the season until Xavier travels to Vanderbilt. When Dez runs into players as quick and as strong as he is, his ability to get to the rim is greatly hampered. Forced to rely on his outside jumper, the freshman becomes less of a factor in the offense. Frustrated, he begins an early season Jordan Crawford like binge of shooting that leaves him spending more time on the bench while Martin and Redford stretch defenses. Unable to score, Wells loses focus defensively and can;t impact games unless he is able to run at the rim. Still dominant against weaker competition, Dez loses the plot in big games.

Most Likely: I don't want to be yet another voice in the wilderness, but this kid could be the real deal. If Wells hones an outside shot to force defenses to stay honest, he is going to be an absolute beast. Part of what stood out with him in the recruiting process was his tremendous basketball intelligence. If he can play smart on the occasional night when his offense isn't there he will be a weapon off the bench early or in the first five. Wells is not a recruit for building, he's a recruit for right now.