Mark Turgeon's voice cracked as he described the scene Wednesday when he informed Dez Wells that he had been declared eligible to play for Maryland this year.
"There were a lot of people crying this morning," Turgeon said. "A lot of work and a lot of things that that kid went through. So it's pretty emotional right now."
Over the last five months, Wells had been accused of sexual assault, expelled from Xavier and exonerated from the charge. Then he underwent a quick but intense recruiting process, enrolled at Maryland and was denied in his initial request to play this year for the Terrapins. Early Wednesday morning the NCAA informed Maryland that its appeal had been granted.
"The reason you won't have Dez [to talk to] today is it was emotional," Turgeon said.
On Wednesday morning, Turgeon brought Wells together with some of those from the school who had worked to secure his eligibility and told him the news. One-by-one Wells hugged people such as compliance director Dan Trump and director of basketball operations Dustin Clark. Athletic director Kevin Anderson would have been in line, too, but he was away on a business trip.
Wells then made calls to his mother, sister and others close to him.
"That's when it got really hard -- just three or four or five months of emotion coming out," Turgeon said.
The roller-coaster ride continues for Wells over the next few days as Maryland opens Friday night in Brooklyn, N.Y., against defending national champion Kentucky.
The 6-foot-5 Wells is a game-changer for Maryland. Without him, the Terps figured to be improved from last year's 17-15 team. With him, they will have the one element they might have lacked -- a go-to scorer. Sophomore Nick Faust would have tried to assume the role played last year by ACC scoring leader Terrell Stoglin. Now he can be a secondary threat and maybe even play some point guard, an intriguing option for Turgeon.
"Now we have more depth. We can do more things," Turgeon said. "We can go big lineup. We can go small lineup. We've got a lot of guards."
And perhaps a real chance to win Friday night.
- Kevin Dunleavy