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.