Michigan v Kansas

Untangling the allegations levied by Ben McLemore’s AAU coach


Here’s what we know about the allegations surrounding Ben McLemore’s AAU coach Darius Cobb: he accepted $10,000 and a couple of trips to LA from a runner named Rodney Blackstock to try and persuade McLemore in a specific direction when deciding on his agent and his financial advisor. We also know that a cousin of McLemore, named Richard Boyd, was a long for the ride on those trips to LA. Cobb also alleges that Blackstock paid for a birthday party at a bowling alley for McLemore back in February and says the he helped out the family paying their bills from time-to-time.

That much we can pretty much state as fact if we assume that what was written in Eric Prisbell’s story from USA Today on Saturday night.

What we don’t know, however, far outweighs what we do know. How much did Kansas or Bill Self know about this deal? How much did McLemore, or his mother Sonya Reid, know about Cobb’s association with Blackstock? Did that money ever make it into McLemore’s hands, or was this simply a coach — who admitted to being an aspiring agent and who has spent two years in prison — trying to use his association with the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft to better himself?

Because until there is proof that Cobb was working at the behest of McLemore and his family, he’s just another hanger-on looking to cash in on a payday for having a potentially-exploitable relationship with a soon-to-be profitable athlete.

That kind of deal happens all the time, and it makes me wonder about Cobb’s motivation here. Why is he talking to USA Today? What happened that made him go public with this? Without Cobb talking on the record and working with Prisbell in exposing this story, there wouldn’t be all that much to it. What happened that made him decide to come forward? Was he cut out of the deal and this is his way of getting back at the player and the family? Or was this a calculated move, a premeditated effort for the people in the McLemore camp to preemptively strike down a story that they had heard was in the pipeline?

If Cobb was the conduit on a cash pipeline from Blackstock to the McLemore’s, it looks a lot better for Ben and the Kansas program if it’s some renegade AAU coach trying to get his while he still is able to leech off of his former player.

Because if that’s the case, than the NCAA won’t have much of a case to speak of.

It would be hard to penalize Kansas for using an ineligible player when neither the school nor the player was aware that when Cobb began peddling his influence, McLemore technically became in eligible. And McLemore is much more marketable when he’s not the reason that Kansas had a full-season of games wiped out of the NCAA’s history books.

That may not be true, not when Blackstock is paying for birthday parties and the money that he is giving Cobb is eventually paying for McLemore’s bills.

But that’s also not the most important argument here. Does it really matter? None of this influenced McLemore’s decision to enroll at Kansas. And none of it played a roll in his decision to head to the NBA; he was all-but out the door since the first time he went for 25 points in a game.

The only effect that the $10,000 that found itself in Cobb’s back account will have on the Jayhawk program is that, by retroactively making McLemore ineligible, it could become the only thing to keep Kansas from winning at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title in almost a decade.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.