Ben McLemore surprised nobody when he declared for the NBA draft after just one season at Kansas. His sweet, sweet jumpshot, viewed through the lens of his family’s poverty, made the decision a no-brainer.
There’s nothing wrong with following your talents and earning money when you can. What allegedly went on behind the scenes, on the other hand, could lead to all kinds of trouble.
Eric Prisbell of USA Today wrote an article today, detailing a confession by McLemore’s AAU coach that agents made illicit payments to the coach, in hopes of securing the freshman superstar as a future client.
Darius Cobb, a St. Louis-based AAU coach, told USA TODAY Sports that he accepted two cash payments of $5,000 during the regular season from Rodney Blackstock, the founder and CEO of Hooplife Academy, a sports mentoring organization based in Greensboro, N.C.
Cobb says he also received three all-expense paid trips to Los Angeles — and that a cousin of McLemore’s, Richard Boyd, accompanied him on two of them — for meetings in January and February with sports agents and financial advisers hoping to represent McLemore if he left for the NBA after his redshirt freshman season at Kansas. McLemore, 20, declared for the NBA draft on April 9.
Later in the article, Boyd denies any wrongdoing. USA Today claims sources and evidence support some of Cobb’s statements, and the University of Kansas acknowledged they had been notified of the allegations and refused to comment further.
It’s a tangled story, and you owe it to yourself to read the entire article. Cobb appears to be coming forth in hopes of protecting McLemore, but the whole thing is very murky. As is so often true when agents and money enter the picture alongside talented young basketball players.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.