AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

New audio recordings featured in HBO’s film on the FBI’s investigation into college hoops

1 Comment

If you don’t follow college basketball religiously, if your understanding of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college athletics is limited to a soundbite from their September 26th, 2017, press conference stating that “we have your playbook,” then HBO’s new documentary, The Scheme, is going to be an eye-opener for you.

The film is told from the perspective of Christian Dawkins, the son of a Michigan high school coaching legend that, by his early 20s, was an aspiring agent that worked as a middleman between some of basketball’s best high school prospects ad the shoe companies, agents and college coaches recruiting them. Dawkins was sentenced to 18 months in prison on bribery and fraud charges stemming from the investigation, and the documentary is, in essence, the defense that Dawkins was hoping to muster at trial and was never allowed to. In short, his goal was never to use the money given to him by a still-unnamed (and potentially corrupt) FBI agent to bribe coaches because that’s not how the business works. As he put it in the film, “the FBI funded a great party for college coaches,” and what was leftover was the seed money he would use for his management business.

It heavily features three people — Dawkins, his lawyer Steve Haney and Dan Wetzel, a columnist for Yahoo! and the our nation’s leader in the anti-NCAA movement — that believe what many in the basketball community believe: That it’s farcical that Dawkins, and the nine other men that were arrested by the FBI during this investigation, has been convicted of multiple federal felonies for breaking NCAA rules; that it’s a joke that Marty Blazer, a man that stole millions and millions of dollars from his clients, got a year of probation and no jail time for his crimes in exchange for putting the FBI on Dawkins’ trail; that this investigation did little more than set taxpayer money on fire while essentially turning the NCAA’s amateurism bylaws into federal legislation.

There are plenty of people in our country that only read the tweet and didn’t click the link on anything that had to do with this story as it played out over the last two and a half years, and this is going to be their chance to fully grasp just how ridiculous this entire endeavor was.

But for those of us that have been paying attention, the information here really isn’t all that new.

We knew most of this, thanks in part to the reporting from Yahoo! Sports over that time frame.

What is going to make the headlines from this case is what was caught on tape. There is video of Dawkins, on a yacht, taking $50,000 from an undercover FBI agent. There is video of his in a Las Vegas hotel room with a handful of assistant coaches — TCU’s Corey Barker, USC’s Tony Bland, Creighton’s Preston Murphy — accepting envelopes full of cash. More importantly, we get a chance to listen in on the wiretapped phone calls involving Arizona’s Sean Miller and LSU’s Will Wade.

Hearing Wade talk so openly about making “strong-ass offers” and discuss how he could compensate a player “better than the rookie minimum, we’d give him more than the D League,” is certainly striking. It’s one thing to read those lines on a screen. It’s another to hear them come out of his mouth.

In another conversation that was recorded, Miller was discussing the recruitment of Nassir Little with Dawkins. Little, at the time, was thought to be down to Arizona and Miami as the two schools pursuing him. Miller asked about how he should navigate Little’s AAU director and AAU coach. This exchange followed:

Christian Dawkins: “They definitely want to get some [expletive] for themselves because they have been taking care of the kid, and they [expletive] like …

Sean Miller: “Miami doesn’t have an advantage over us in that area, do they?”

Dawkins: “Well, I’ll say this, what Miami does have is Adidas.”

Miller: “Right.”

Perhaps more striking was the conversation the pair had about Naz Reid, a 6-foot-10 forward from New Jersey that eventually enrolled at LSU for a year. Former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who was convicted of similar crimes and served three months in prison, was caught on a recording saying, “there’s a deal in place, I got $300,000 for [Reid].”

That led to this exchange:

Dawkins: “Do you think you’ll get Naz Reid?”

Miller: “No. He’s going to LSU.”

Dawkins: “OK, he’s going to LSU, so that helps.”

Miller: “We’re not even bringing him on a visit. He’s not even visiting. That’s all [expletive]. Like, I’m looking at our recruiting board, he’s not even on it. I’ve never talked to the kid. All this [expletive] hype [expletive] on the phone, it’s stupid. He just probably said, ‘You know what, [expletive] you. I don’t want 75, I want a 120. I may go to Arizona.’ That’s all that was.”

Dawkins: “And Will Wade — I told Book, I said, ‘Will Wade is like driving up the price of [expletive]. Cause he’s not even doing like real numbers.’”

Miller: “I tell you what, ‘I’ll give him credit. He’s got a big set of balls on him.’”

Dawkins: “No, Will Wade doesn’t give a [expletive], Sean.”

Also included in the film is a scene where Dawkins discusses his arrest. He was brought into a hotel in Manhattan under the guise of another meeting with his investors when an undercover FBI agent asked him if he would flip on Rick Pitino and NBA agent Andy Miller. While they were having that conversation, Dawkins said, Sean Miller called him. When he did, the call popped up on the FBI agents’ phones.

That’s when he knew.

But Dawkins didn’t flip.

He fought, and is still fighting, these charges to the bitter end.

The reason why Pitino was the only coach that, to date, has lost his job as a result of this scandal is because Dawkins decided that he wasn’t going to turn snitch.

And at the end of the day, the reason why this investigation didn’t turn the sport completely upside down, as so many predicted that it would, was because of that decision Dawkins made.

This film tells you why.

Duke’s Justin Robinson discusses lost season, becoming a leader

Leave a comment

Justin Robinson was starting to figure things out.

The Duke senior forward saw his role increase as the postseason approached. Against rival North Carolina, Robinson made key plays on both ends of the floor. Robinson finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three assists in 25 minutes. The ACC tournament was next on the schedule for Duke.

Then, the college basketball season was cut short. Robinson and his Duke teammates were among a large group of teams with seasons that would never get completed.

Robinson sat down with his brother Corey to discuss how he and his teammates handled season being canceled, his favorite tournament memories and how he grew into his role with the Blue Devils.

Report: MSU basketball player accused of sexual assault

Getty Images
Leave a comment

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) A woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a Michigan State basketball player is asking the Michigan attorney general’s office to investigate, according to a published report.

ESPN, citing a police report and emails obtained through a public records request, reported that Michigan State University police told prosecutors they had probable cause that sophomore guard Brock Washington raped the woman on Jan. 19 while she was too intoxicated to consent. Police referred the case to county prosecutors, who declined to file charges this month.

An MSU police spokesman said that the attorney general’s office requested the case file and the department was cooperating.

After a loss at Indiana on Jan. 23, coach Tom Izzo told reporters that Washington had been suspended. He did not elaborate.

Washington did not play again this season. He played a total of 19 minutes this season before the suspension.

A team spokesman did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday. The AP also left messages with the MSU police.

ESPN said it attempted to reach Washington and his current attorney. A previous attorney, Peter Samouris, said he wasn’t familiar with this case but that he spoke with Washington and Washington’s father last week.

“It’s my understanding he’s not going to be charged, and he doesn’t wish to speak,” Samouris told ESPN. “He’s maintained his innocence 100% of the time.”

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon said in a statement to ESPN that she did not charge Washington because the case “does not meet the burden of proof that we must present to a jury.”

The woman told ESPN she met with an assistant prosecutor earlier this month and was told that she had been “too intoxicated to prove that it (sexual contact) was forced.”

“That was the whole point of the charge, that I was too drunk to consent to what happened,” the woman said. “The prosecutor failed me completely.”

The woman told ESPN she requested that the AG’s office investigate her case.

ESPN, citing police records and an unidentified source, said Washington pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in 2018 – under a provision allowing offenders to plead guilty without a court entering a judgment of conviction. A female student reported that Washington forcibly groped her on Aug. 29, 2017, according to ESPN.

Michigan State has been at the center of several high-profile sexual assault claims in recent years. The school was rocked by the sexual abuse scandal involving sports doctor Larry Nassar, and several basketball and football players have been accused of misconduct as well.

More AP college basketball:

and

NBA draft process remains uncertain for college stars

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Uncertainty in the NBA draft process means a chaotic next few months for college basketball’s stars.

The COVID-19 outbreak stalled the NBA season. The future of the regular season hasn’t been determined. The postseason with it. The 2020 NBA Draft still remains a complete mystery.

Through it all, college basketball’s best players have deadlines for pro decisions coming up. Changing times have made for a more difficult NBA draft process than normal. It also might have ramifications for future college eligibility for certain players.

Before the 2019 NBA Draft process, the NCAA revised its former policy. Student-athletes could sign agents and retain college eligibility last summer. That process helped players like Kansas’ Devon Dotson and Louisville’s Jordan Nwora test the 2019 NBA Draft waters before returning to school this season.

The sport’s top agents largely ignored the new NCAA certification process for 2020. Only 23 agents have even been certified so far. As noted by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, that list of NCAA-approved agents don’t come from bigger firms. So college players have been given a small group of agents to help them navigate the process. At least if they wish to keep college open as an option.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony also noted that many agents are more focused on their current NBA players and the surrounding chaos in the NBA than they are 2020 draft prospects.

Of course, prospects can also risk navigating the NBA draft process alone. An agent, even from a “smaller” firm, has NBA connections. Agents help give feedback to potential clients who test the waters. A player going through the process alone doesn’t get that benefit. With limited NCAA-approved agents, some players could opt to do things themselves the next several months.

Top players who intend to stay in the draft will still sign with the sport’s top agents. That part will stay the same. But during a unique draft process, players being limited to only 23 agents to retain eligibility is not what the NCAA should be looking for. Workouts have practically been eliminated. The draft might be pushed back. And the NCAA isn’t helping its own student-athletes by placing so many restrictions that limit returning eligibility.

Tarleton State’s decision to hire Billy Gillispie is shameful

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Billy Gillispie is the new head coach at Tarleton State.

But the truth is that Billy Gillispie, the former UTEP, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Kentucky coach, should never again be allowed to coach basketball at any level, which is what makes Tarleton State’s decision to hire him to lead the program into the Division I ranks next season all the more shameful.

He’s abusive, he’s manipulative, he treats the people in his program horrifically and you can never be quite sure when his next drunk driving arrest is going to happen. He’s had at least three since his coaching career began. When he was the head coach at the University of Kentucky, he had a driver because the school could not trust that he would not get behind the wheel while hammered. Case in point: exactly five months after Kentucky fired him — when he no longer had a driver supplied to him by the school — he was pulled over at 2:47 a.m. in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for DUI. He plead guilty two months later despite refusing a breathalyzer.

Every stop that he has been along the way, there are stories about the way that he treats players, his assistant coaches and the people he interacts with around the program every day. There was the time at Kentucky he made Josh Harrellson sit in a bathroom stall during halftime because he was “playing like s***,” or the time he made Harrellson ride home from a road game in a van with the team managers. There was the time at Texas A&M that he made a player break up with the girl he was dating — a booster’s daughter — on the charter flight home from a game, in front of the girl’s family.

Then there was Texas Tech.

As Jeff Goodman, then of CBS Sports, reported at the time, Gillispie’s treatment of the players was just horrific. He had his team practicing for four hours a day — including one day where they went for eight hours — just obliterating the NCAA’s limit of 20 hours per week. It left one player on the team with stress fractures in both legs that he was forced to play through. He lied to players about scholarship offers, stringing them along until he had someone better to give the scholarship to. He did the same thing with coaches trying to get a spot on his coaching staff. According to Goodman’s reporting at the time, former Indiana guard Tom Coverdale quit his job as a Junior College coach to be an assistant on Gillispie’s staff only to get to Lubbock and be told that he was going to be an assistant strength coach that paid half as much. He would force everyone with the program — including radio and TV broadcasters — participate in layup lines at the start of practice. Anyone that missed a shot at to run the stadium stairs.

“It was mental warfare,” said a source that has worked with Gillispie in the past. “Everyone had to have a clear understanding. He was the ruler. He has a major complex with making sure everyone knows he’s in charge. For no reason, just to flex. Meeting at all times of the night, meeting on Christmas Eve, just to see if anyone says, ‘can’t coach, wife said no.’ Then he’d overcompensate with gifts for the family, for the kids.”

Like any abusive relationship, he breaks down people he has control over, builds them back up by showering them with compliments and promises that it will never happen again only to repeat the process all over.

And then there was the incident with Chris Beard.

Fed up with the way that he treated people in the program — as many as 30 people left Texas Tech, from players to secretaries, in the 18 months that Gillispie was in charge — Beard confronted Gillispie about it in a meeting with Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt. Things got heated. The two had to be physically separated. Beard was paid a hefty chunk of money to be quiet about it, and he was sent on his way, taking a job in the ABA before ending up back in Lubbock.

Those are just the stories that I feel comfortable enough to publish.

Tarleton State knows exactly what they’re doing in hiring Billy Gillispie. None of his issues are a secret. Things haven’t changed since he took over at Ranger College, a JuCo in Texas, three years ago. But the new president at the University wanted to make a splash. He wanted to transition to Division I, and he wanted to win as soon as he got there. The WAC is hardly a powerhouse, and if there is one thing that Billy Clyde Gillispie can do, it’s win basketball games.

He did so at UTEP and he did so at Texas A&M. Odds are good Billy Gillispie will also win at Tarleton State.

And in the process, he’ll treat everyone that he deems beneath him — student-athletes, staff members, whoever — terribly.

Is that really worth it?

2020 NBA Draft Early Entry Tracker

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Here is CBT’s full 2020 NBA Draft early entry tracker. You’ll find a full breakdown of what players are deciding. We’ll track signing with agents, testing the waters and returning to school here. 

Underclassmen have until Sunday, April 26th at 11:59 p.m. EST to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft.

A deadline of Monday, June 15th at 5 p.m. EST is set for underclassmen to withdraw and retain college eligibility.

Of course, these dates are subject to change given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation.

Here is the full list of the underclassmen who have declared for the 2020 NBA Draft. You can also find a list of the biggest names we’re waiting on.

NBA DRAFT EARLY ENTRY

Preseason Top 25 | Mock Draft | Early Entry Tracker

NBA DRAFT TESTING THE WATERS

  • SADDIQ BEY, Villanova
  • TYLER BEY, Colorado
  • JERMAINE BISHOP, Norfolk State
  • JORDAN BRUNER, Yale
  • MARCUS CARR, Minnesota
  • JALEN CRUTCHER, Dayton
  • RYAN DALY, St. Joseph’s
  • DEVON DANIELS, N.C. State
  • KENDRIC DAVIS, SMU
  • L.J. FIGUEROA, St. John’s
  • D.J. FUNDERBURK, N.C. State
  • ALONZO GAFFNEY, Ohio State
  • JIMMA GATWECH, Huntington Prep (WV)
  • JAYVON GRAVES, Buffalo
  • RAYSHAUN HAMMONDS, Georgia
  • ELIJAH HUGHES, Syracuse
  • FERON HUNT, SMU
  • HERB JONES, Alabama
  • MASON JONES, Arkansas
  • KAMERON LANGLEY, North Carolina A&T
  • SABEN LEE, Vanderbilt
  • KIRA LEWIS, Alabama
  • ISAIAH LIVERS, Michigan
  • CAM MACK, Nebraska
  • SANDRO MAMUKELASHVILI, Seton Hall
  • NAJI MARSHALL, Xavier
  • KENYON MARTIN JR., IMG Academy (FL)
  • REMY MARTIN, Arizona State
  • MAC MCCLUNG, Georgetown
  • ELIJAH OLANIYI, Stony Brook
  • JOHN PETTY JR., Alabama
  • NATE PIERRE-LOUIS, Temple
  • JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL, Villanova
  • JAY SCRUBB, Louisville
  • PARKER STEWART, UT Martin
  • MACIO TEAGUE, Baylor
  • XAVIER TILLMAN, Michigan State
  • JORDAN TUCKER, Butler
  • KEITH WILLIAMS, Cincinnati
  • MCKINLEY WRIGHT, Colorado

NOTABLES RETURNING TO SCHOOL

  • DEREK CULVER, West Virginia
  • OSCAR TSHIEBWE, West Virginia

NOTABLES YET TO ANNOUNCE

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, Memphis
DERRICK ALSTON, Boise State
COLE ANTHONY, North Carolina
BRYAN ANTOINE, Villanova
JOEL AYAYI, Gonzaga
JARED BUTLER, Baylor
VERNON CAREY, Duke
AYO DOSUNMU, Illinois
DEVON DOTSON, Kansas
MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State
LUKA GARZA, Iowa
JOSH GREEN, Arizona
ASHTON HAGANS, Kentucky
AARON HENRY, Michigan State
MATTHEW HURT, Duke
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS, Indiana
ISAIAH JOE, Arkansas
DAVID JOHNSON, Louisville
A.J. LAWSON, South Carolina
SCOTTIE LEWIS, Florida
TYRESE MAXEY, Kentucky
JADEN MCDANIELS, Washington
WENDELL MOORE, Duke
JORDAN NWORA, Louisville
FILIP PETRUSEV, Gonzaga
YVES PONS, Tennessee
NEEMIAS QUETA, Utah State
IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, Kentucky
JAHMI’US RAMSEY, Texas Tech
NICK RICHARDS, Kentucky
JALEN SMITH, Maryland
CASSIUS STANLEY, Duke
ISAIAH STEWART, Washington
TYRELL TERRY, Stanford
TRENDON WATFORD, LSU
ROMEO WEEMS, DePaul
KALEB WESSON, Ohio State
KAHLIL WHITNEY, Kentucky
ROBERT WOODWARD, Mississippi State

Preseason Top 25 | Coaching Carousel | NBA Draft Early Entry (link)

WHEN IS THE 2020 NBA DRAFT?

The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled to take place on June 25th, 2020, but that date is up in the air due to the spread of COVID-19. At the very least, the league is preparing as if the pre-draft process is going to be drastically different than it has been in past seasons.

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE FOR AN EARLY ENTRY TO DECLARE FOR THE 2020 NBA DRAFT?

Underclassmen have under April 26th to declare for the draft. Those that don’t sign with an agent have until June 15th to pull their name out of the draft and return to school.

WHERE CAN I FIND A 2020 MOCK DRAFT?

Right here, thanks for asking.