Sleaze is alive and well in the recruiting world

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If you’re into reading about the darker side of college basketball and college basketball recruiting, than Wednesday was a day in heaven for you.

First, it was Eric Prisbell from USA Today delving into the murky waters of the third-party recruiter. And while I’m not going to spoil the story, the part that is the most interesting centers around why is it so difficult to catch these guys.

It’s a thought that has crossed my mind many times. I don’t spend nearly as much time in recruiting circles as lot of the more well-known writers and I’ve heard numerous rumors about Recruit X getting Y amount of dollars from Coach Z. I’m sure there are guys out there that can detail you precise figures for all of the transactions that have occurred over the last decade. How much did OJ Mayo get from USC? Why is John Calipari cornering the market on the blue-chip recruit? What amount of money did it take for Adidas to keep Shabazz Muhammad in the family?

So how come none of this becomes public record? Why aren’t schools getting hammered with NCAA sanctions? From Prisbell’s story:

The problem for the NCAA, according to ESPN national recruiting analyst Dave Telep, is that the schemes are “too easy to get done and too difficult to prove. The people within the world of college and AAU basketball have a pretty good idea that that is out there. They also have no idea how to combat it.”

With the absence of a “paper trail,” Telep said, proving illicit relationships is difficult. More than two-thirds of elite AAU programs are established as non-profits. Some receive a few hundred thousand dollars in donations – in addition to shoe company contracts – according to a review of their tax records.

Policing is difficult because the tax forms often do not disclose specific names of donors. Humphrey, the NCAA official, characterized the non-profit foundation issue as “very high on our radar” and “difficult to track.” But she said AAU teams must cooperate fully during NCAA investigations if they wish to compete at NCAA-certified events, which give prospects the chance to perform in front of hundreds of college coaches.

“We are also very well aware of connections that some of those summer programs — via the agent, via the runner — may have with our own institutions,” Humphrey said. “So we are also connecting the dots in terms of what [college] coaching staff might have some questionable relationships with some of these individuals.”

Gary Parrish followed up Prisbell’s story with a column on how summer hoops hasn’t gotten any less sleazy in the six years since Sonny Vaccaro hung ’em up.

In fact, there’s an argument to be made that things are even worse. Nike and Adidas are just as strong as ever, Reebok is trying to make a comeback, and Under Armour is doing everything they can to work their way into the shoe game. They’re hosting tournaments and sponsoring teams. That’s why you see the Harrison twins, arguably the most sought after package deal in the history of the sport, rocking UA shoes and playing in UA events.

And it’s also why they have become one of the most intriguing recruitments in recent memory:

One of the interesting recruiting battles over the coming months will be for the services of twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and most expect it to come down to Kentucky and Maryland.

Why Kentucky and Maryland?

Because Kentucky is Kentucky and John Calipari is John Calipari, and those two entities have a way of getting things done. And because Maryland is the alma mater of Kevin Plank, who is the CEO of Under Armour, which is the company that outfits Maryland’s athletic department and this summer funded the Harrison twins, both of whom are consensus top-10 prospects.

Thank god that we force these kids to remain amateurs and student-athletes to prevent them from capitalizing off of their athletic ability.

Why pay the player when his handler can get rich?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Chimezie Metu cleared to play by USC

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USC has cleared junior forward Chimezie Metu as he’ll be allowed to play on Saturday against Utah, the school announced.

The 6-foot-11 Metu is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Trojans this season as he was one of the players named in the Friday reports that linked him to NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins.

The Trojans are the latest school to allow their player to play after the reports as they follow schools like Duke and Kentucky, as they also did the same with allowing Wendell Carter Jr. and Kevin Knox Jr. to play.

It’s also noted in the release that USC is reviewing Bennie Boatwright’s eligibility as well even though he’s out for the season with a knee injury.

On Friday, Yahoo Sports reported a wide-scale payment operation from Miller and Dawkins in order to recruit players for Miller’s agency. The records allege that Bennie Boatwright Sr. received about $2,000. The records also allege that Metu or his advisor, Johnnie Parker, also got $2,000.

Although the allegations look serious, Dawkins has also proven to be untrustworthy in many instances and it’s hard to tell what might be real and what might be a cover for another expense. It’s hard to prove a lot of these things presented in a business expenses spreadsheet. USC is backing Metu by saying he never received anything that would harm his eligibility as they try to make a final push at Arizona before the postseason.

Bubble Banter: There will be some NCAA tournament bids determined today

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

MARQUETTE
PROVIDENCE
SETON HALL
BAYLOR
TCU
LOUISVILLE
VIRGINIA TECH
SMU
MIAMI
LSU
TEXAS
USC
UTAH
MISSISSIPPI STATE
TEXAS A&M
WASHINGTON
ALABAMA
KANSAS STATE
OKLAHOMA
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
ST. BONAVENTURE
FLORIDA

Marvin Bagley III returning to Duke lineup against Syracuse after knee injury

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Duke star freshman Marvin Bagley III will be available for the Blue Devils on Saturday when they play Syracuse in an ACC home game.

Bagley missed the past four games due to a knee strain that he suffered in the Feb. 8 game against North Carolina. During Bagley’s absence, the Blue Devils went 4-0 as their defense looked very good and senior Grayson Allen became an aggressive scorer.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes Duke makes with Bagley’s return. Watching Bagley’s health and seeing how many minutes he plays will be another subplot to watch against the Orange.

Kentucky responds to recent reports from FBI investigation

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Kentucky has officially responded to recent reports that some of its players, notably freshman Kevin Knox, could be involved in the fallout from NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins’ FBI investigation.

Knox is one of the players mentioned in a Yahoo Sports report on Friday that included documents for how Miller and Dawkins recruited players to the agency. In the report that Dawkins sent to Miller, it is noted that Knox or a family member of Knox allegedly had a meal with Dawkins.

Kevin Knox Sr. said he didn’t know Miller or Dawkins in a report on Friday. Kentucky also seems to be backing Knox entering Saturday’s SEC clash with Missouri. The Wildcats haven’t found anything wrong while reviewing the matter internally as it looks like Knox will play.

Kentucky seems to be following Duke’s path with Wendell Carter Jr.

Both are still allowed to play, despite being listed in the report, because there are a lot of factors still at play here. It should be noted that the evidence against all of these players in the Dawkins case looks bad.  It’s also hard to prove whether an actual encounter occurred. Dawkins doesn’t have the greatest history of being honest as CBT’s Rob Dauster noted.

Dawkins could have been misleading about some of these encounters with his boss to make himself look good. It’s also difficult to tell who truly paid for the meal, as it is conceivable that some of these players or their families paid for themselves.

Regardless of the nuances of this case, Knox looks like he will continue to play for a recently resurgent Kentucky team that has won two straight games. It’ll be interesting to see if this case hovers over Knox and Kentucky or if they can continue to power through and play well.

Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin out for the season with broken left foot

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The University of Memphis announced on Friday that junior point guard Jeremiah Martin will miss the rest of the season with a broken left foot.

The leading scorer in the AAC this season, the 6-foot-3 Martin injured his foot in the first half of the Tigers’ win over Houston on Thursday night. Martin did not return to the game as he left the arena in a protective boot. Martin is expected to have surgery to repair the foot on Tuesday as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury.

While the Tigers will be significantly worse without its best offensive player, Memphis did come back to beat the Cougars without Martin on Thursday night, as they’ll still be a tough out in the American. Martin was putting up 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as he was in the midst of a breakout junior campaign.

If Martin returns to school for his senior season, he’ll be under heavy consideration as one of the top 100 players in college basketball next season.