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Tuesday’s bombshell proves college players have value, and now amateurism must end

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Brian Bowen was not a one-and-done player.

He ranks 19th in 247’s composite top 100 in the Class of 2017. He doesn’t show up on Jonathan Givony’s latest 2018 Mock Draft for ESPN. He’s not Marvin Bagley III. He’s not Michael Porter Jr. He’s not Deandre Ayton or Andrew Wiggins or LeBron James. He’s not on that level.

And Adidas thought that he was worth the $100,000 that it would cost to get him on Louisville’s roster.

Adidas had just invested $160 million into a contract with Louisville. They need Louisville to be good, and to protect that investment, they were willing to throw another hundred grand at a player that would help the Cardinals win games.

Nassir Little, who is thought to be Player-12 in the FBI complaints that were released on Tuesday, was in the middle of a bidding war between Miami and Arizona. Miami, who is sponsored by Adidas, wanted the shoe company to fund $150,000 to the family of the player to get him onto the Coral Gables campus, according to the complaints, but the slush fund that Adidas executive Jim Gatto uses to make those points was running low. He wanted to get the number down to $100,000 or $125,000, a problem considering a “rival apparel company” had already made an offer of $150,000 to get the player to Arizona.

Might the family be willing to wait until 2018, when money won’t be so tight? No, because, according to another Adidas executive, Merl Code, the family may be looking for $200,000 by then.

The four coaches that were arrested got caught accepting bribes from financial advisors and a runner for an agent in exchange for influence on where the future pros on their roster will eventually become clients. The future earning potential of the best in the college ranks is so great that it didn’t seem out of the ordinary for, say, Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person to be paid $91,500 to steer a pair of borderline first round picks to a financial advisor that was working with the FBI.

None of this is out of the norm.

No coach in the country thought that what they were doing was a federal crime. No one expected the FBI to start arresting shoe company executives for operating their business as usual. This is rampant in the college ranks for the simple fact that it’s how business has to get done.

I say all that to say this: The only way to truly eliminate the corruption in college basketball is to legalize the corruption.

Get rid of amateurism. Allow the athletes to profit off of their name and their image and their likeness. Let them sign with an agent. Let them be sponsored by the shoe companies. Let them get paid to sign autographs or have a local restaurant put their face on a billboard. Let a booster use the star point guard to help him sell cars.

It is the only possible way to save the sport of college basketball from collapsing in on itself.

Given what I mentioned earlier, there is no logical way to deny that college basketball players have value that goes beyond the jersey on their back. They have value to the shoe companies because the shoe companies want the programs they quite literally have billions of dollars invested in to be successful, and that is before you consider the potentially massive future profits if a player comes from nowhere to be the next Stephen Curry or Russell Westbrook.

They have value to the head coaches who makes millions of dollars when the players that they have are good enough to help them win games. Why are “recruiters” so important to a coaching staff? Because if you can’t get players, you don’t win titles, and winning titles is what gets you a contract extension, a job in a bigger league, an extra zero on your contract.

They have value to agents and financial advisors because even a small percentage of their future earnings is massive. If all it took was, say, $10,000 a month for two or three years to ensure that you got 4 percent of every dollar that James Harden earns in his career, you do everything you can to find that $10,000 a month.

Denying this exists flies in the face of simple economic principles like supply and demand or capitalism, or the simple fact that humans are greedy and they like money. The reason this black market exists is because of the NCAA’s arcane amateurism rules.

As our Travis Hines put it, when you outlaw something, you create outlaws.

At it’s core, what’s happening here really is simple: Adidas is sponsoring Bowen. Nike and Adidas are competing over whether or not they can sponsor Little. Agents and financial advisors are funneling money to coaches as a go-between to recruit college athletes because they themselves are not actually allowed to recruit the college athletes.

Want to make that go away?

Allow kids like Bowen – whose $100,000 sponsorship from Adidas is peanuts compared to some of the numbers throw around with bigger prospects – to sign with agents. Allow them to hire professionals whose entire purpose in life is to help athletes navigate the always-expanding business side of sports. Allow those agents to negotiate those sponsorship deals while the player is still in college.

That’s not going to totally eliminate the seedy side of recruiting by agents, but nothing ever is, not when there is that much money at stake. And it’s not going to rid the world of middlemen trying to profit off of these kids. It will make some things uncomfortable in a locker room when a star is getting paid six or seven figures and a scrub is asking him to pay for dinner.

But at least the kids will be getting what they’re worth.

And something as simple as a sponsorship won’t ruin the next Brian Bowen’s college experience and, potentially, his basketball career.

What Tuesday exposed is the market at work.

The NCAA needs to finally stop trying to fight it, because they’re never going to win.

College Basketball Power Rankings: Kentucky drops out of the Top 25

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I’m not sure that this Kentucky season can be considered a worst-case scenario.

Kentucky fans have seen a worst-case scenario.

That came during the 2012-13 season, when a Wildcat team that was trending towards the back end of the top 25 lost their star center Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL in February, dooming them to the NIT, where they lost in the first round to Robert Morris.

That is a worst-case scenario, and barring something totally unforeseen, this Kentucky team is not going to turn into that Kentucky team.

This group looks much more like the team we saw the following year, the one that featured Julius Randle, James Young, the Harrison twins and Willie Cauley-Stein and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed with a 24-10 record before making a run to the national title game. That team had plenty of talent, but they never quite gelled until March.

This year’s team does not have that same level of talent, but they are running into some of the same problems.

The question is whether or not this group actually has the potential to come together and make a run like that 2014 team.

RELATED: Kentucky just is not that good

And frankly, I still think they do. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a go-to guy while Kevin Knox had seemingly regained his confidence before a poor performance in the home loss to Florida. Quade Green has returned to the lineup, as has Jarred Vanderbilt, who might be the key to unlock the potential on this roster.

In an ideal world, Kentucky’s length and athleticism allows them to be one of the nation’s best defensive teams while the playmaking of Vanderbilt and Green makes their offense fluid enough that they overcome some of their shooting issues. I can still tell myself a story where Kentucky finds a way to put it all together for six straight games in March.

But that’s not who they are right now.

And with each passing game, I grow less and less confident that the elite will ever come out of this group.

Kentucky is not a top 25 basketball team right now. They are nowhere near one of the favorites to win a national title right now. And, at this point, Kentucky fans would do well to adjust their expectations, as a trip out of the Sweet 16 should be considered a success.

Here is the full top 25.

1. Villanova, 18-1 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Purdue, 19-2 (2)
3. Virginia, 18-1 (5)
4. Kansas, 16-3 (13)
5. Michigan State, 17-3 (7)
6. Duke, 17-2 (10)
7. West Virginia, 16-3 (4)
8. Arizona, 16-4 (8)
9. Xavier, 18-3 (11)
10. Oklahoma, 14-4 (6)
11. North Carolina, 16-4 (17)
12. Texas Tech, 15-4 (3)
13. Cincinnati, 17-2 (19)
14. Ohio State, 17-4 (22)
15. Auburn, 17-2 (18)
16. Tennessee, 13-5 (23)
17. Wichita State, 15-4 (9)
18. Clemson, 16-3 (20)
19. Saint Mary’s, 19-2 (NR)
20. Gonzaga, 17-4 (16)
21. Nevada, 18-3 (NR)
22. Florida, 14-5 (NR)
23. Rhode Island, 15-3 (NR)
24. Arizona State, 15-4 (14)
25. TCU, 14-5 (25)

DROPPED OUT: No. 12 Seton Hall, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 21 Michigan, No. 24 Miami

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 19 Saint Mary’s, No. 21 Nevada, No. 22 Florida, No. 23 Rhode Island

VIDEO: Northern Colorado wins game with halfcourt buzzer beater

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Northern Colorado knocked off North Dakota on Saturday night thanks to a half court buzzer-beating three from Andre Spight.

Spight is averaging 20.3 points on the season and finished with 34 points and six assists in the 94-91 win.

Clemson’s Grantham tears ACL

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The news on Donte Grantham’s knee was not good.

No. 20 Clemson announced on Sunday morning that Grantham, the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, would miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in a win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

“I’m disappointed that Donte’s career at Clemson had to end this way,” head coach Brad Brownell said. “He was putting together a terrific season statistically, but he really helps this team is so many ways. He’s been a pleasure to coach and it has been fun to watch him mature and grow into the leader of our program.”

Grantham was averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 boards this year.

The Tigers are 16-3 on the season and in line to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid.

VIDEO: West Virginia honored Andrew Jones before game vs. Texas

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The West Virginia basketball team donned burnt orange ‘Big 12 Strong’ warmup shirts with the No. 1 on the back in honor of Texas point guard Andrew Jones.

Jones was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month.

Texas Tech also honored Jones before a game this week, and Texas has raised more than $100,000 for his medical expenses.

Saturday College Basketball Recap: No. 7 Wichita State, No. 8 Texas Tech lose

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PLAYER OF THE DAY

It’s hard to argue with the performance that J.P. Macura had on Saturday. No. 11 Xavier went into Newark and knocked off No. 19 Seton Hall, 73-64, behind 27 points, five boards and three assists from Macura.

This win was particularly important for Xavier, who remain just a game out of first place in the Big East and in great position to make a run at getting a top three seed, which would mean they likely won’t have to play Villanova until the Big East title game. The loss is the second in a row for Seton Hall and the their third loss in four games.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue: Edwards finished with 22 points, eight assists, two steals and no turnovers as the No. 3 Boilermakers blew out Iowa on the road.
  • MALIK NEWMAN, Kansas: Newman finished with 24 points and seven boards, including a personal 7-0 run with three minutes left to help No. 10 Kansas remain in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a 70-67 win over Baylor.
  • BRYCE BROWN, Auburn: Brown finished with 28 points as Auburn erased a 14-point halftime deficit to knock off Georgia 79-65 and remain within a game of first-place in the SEC.
  • DEAN WADE, Kansas State: In a win over No. 24 Kansas State, TCU’s second-straight win over a ranked team, Wade went for 20 pints, six boards, six assists, two blocks and two steals.

TEAM OF THE DAY

Houston landed themselves their first marquee win of the season as they pounded No. 7 Wichita State in Houston, 73-59. Rob Gray led the way with 24 points and four assists, putting the Cougars in a position where earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is feasible. There is still plenty of work left to do, but this is the start they needed.

The bigger question mark, however, is Wichita State, who also lost at home to SMU this week. The Shockers are nowhere near as good as many expected them to be. Their offense isn’t good enough to make up for the fact that they aren’t guarding anyone.

GAME OF THE DAY

Trae Young went for 48 points, 34 of which came after halftime as the Sooners erased a 19-point deficit, but thanks to a Kendall Smith three at the end of regulation, this game went into overtime. Young had shots at the buzzer in regulation and in overtime to win the game and missed both, as the Pokes escaped with an 83-81 win.

Young needed 39 shots to get those 48 points. We went through whether or not that is too many shots for him here.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Iowa State, who can’t guard anyone and is probably the worst team in the Big 12 this season, knocked off No. 8 Texas Tech, 70-52. The Red Raiders have now lost three of their last four games – all of which came on the road – after winning at Kansas. Texas Tech is also now just 1-3 in the four games since Zach Smith broke his foot, but they also beat Baylor by 24 points and won at Kansas when Smith played 10 total minutes.

So you explain Texas Tech to me. Because I don’t get it.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

The Florida Gators moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC thanks to a 66-64 win at No. 18 Kentucky on Saturday. It was hardly a pretty game – Florida shot 33 percent from the floor and 6-for-30 from three – but the Gators were able to hang on thanks to a questionable no-call in the final seconds.

No. 20 Clemson held on to beat Notre Dame at home on Saturday, 67-58, but missing out on a commitment from Zion Williamson wasn’t the only bad news of the day. Star forward Donte Grantham went down with a knee injury midway through the second half. He averages 14.3 points and 7.1 boards. Losing him would be disastrous for the Tigers.

No. 14 Arizona had to rally down the stretch, but the Wildcats did. Trailing by as many as 11 points late in the second half at Stanford, the Wildcats survived as Dorian Pickens missed a three at the buzzer. The win puts Arizona all alone in first place in the Pac-12.

Jalen Brunson scored 23 points and Donte DiVincenzo added 17 points off the bench as No. 1 Villanova blew out UConn in Hartford, 81-61.

No. 13 Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s both won, meaning that the Gaels still hold a one game lead over the Zags in the WCC. Nevada knocked off Boise State, giving the Wolf Pack a two-game lead in the Mountain West.

At this point, Pitt barely counts as ACC competition. But they are and No. 5 Duke beat them 81-54 tonight.

Jevon Carter went for 22 points and eight assists as No. 6 West Virginia knocked off Texas, 86-51. The game was closer than the final score indicates, as the Mountaineers pulled away late.

The star of the day for No. 12 Cincinnati was Gary Clark, who finished with 14 points, 14 boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks, in an 86-60 win over East Carolina.

Luke Maye went for 17 points and 11 boards to lead four players in double figures as No. 15 North Carolina held on to beat Josh Pastner and Georgia Tech, 80-66.

It ended up not being much of a game when the Big Ten invaded Madison Square Garden as No. 22 Ohio State put a beating on Minnesota, 67-49. Minnesota lost Jordan Murphy to an ankle injury in the game as well.