The most intriguing story line heading into the 2012-2013 season is the investigation surrounding the loaded recruiting class currently enrolled at UCLA.
Many expect the Bruins to make a return to national prominence this season, thanks in large part to the additions of Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams. Muhammad and Anderson are universally considered two of the nation’s top three incoming freshmen, along with Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel.
Over the weekend, news leaked out that the NCAA was investigating three of those four freshmen — Muhammad, Anderson and Parker. On Labor Day, UCLA released a statement around the same time as a report was published that, essentially, said Parker was cleared, but that Anderson and Muhammad still had NCAA amateurism issues to work out.
Muhammad’s issues have long been out in the open. Back in late February, news broke that Muhammad’s connection with a pair of financial advisors had piqued the NCAA’s interest. And according to the latest reports, the questions that are being asked about Anderson involve his association with an agent by the name of Thad Foucher, the Wasserman Media Group’s Executive Vice President of Basketball. From the Sports Agent Blog:
Foucher’s name is being mentioned in basketball circles because there is talk that he is on the NCAA’s radar in its investigation focusing on UCLA. Specifically, Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com reported that the NCAA is looking at a possible relationship between Foucher and UCLA freshman Kyle Anderson, which may concern some kind of recruiting violation.
Foucher has been a Wasserman Media Group employee since 1998. His clients includeLaMarcus Aldridge, DJ Augustin and Russell Westbrook. Prior to joining Wasserman, Foucher was the head coach of a very successful New Orleans, Louisiana-based AAU team.
And while UCLA claims that only two of their recruits are being investigated by the NCAA, there are those in the media who are insistent that Parker is still involved:
Dan Guerrero can put out whatever statement he wants, but NCAA has been investigating all 3 UCLA freshmen — Muhammad, Anderson and Parker.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) September 4, 2012
Now, there are a couple of parts of this story that are quite interesting. For starters, much has been made of the fact that Howland hired an AAU coach, Korey McCray from the Atlanta Celtics, prior to signing this class. There’s a stigma associated with AAU basketball, but the two guys that came from Atlanta — Parker and Adams — are the two guys that have had the fewest rumors circulate about them.
The more fascinating part of this story is the gossip in recruiting circles about how Howland managed to land a class this talented. Generally speaking, in situations like this, where there is smoke, there usually is fire. But there was — and still is — plenty of smoke surrounding the Baylor basketball program, and an NCAA investigation was only able to turn up excessive phone calls. In other words, the NCAA only caught Scott Drew breaking a rule that no longer exists. An investigation by no means guarantees significant sanctions.
This whole mess feels a lot like the plot of Blue Chips, doesn’t it?