OJ Mayo

Report: Man at center of corruption investigation says he gave cash to former USC forward Davon Jefferson

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According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, a man at the center of a corruption case within the LA County assessor’s office says he provided former USC forward Davon Jefferson with cash benefits, which would be in violation of NCAA rules.

The report identifies the man as Scott Schenter, a former appraiser whose e-mails suggest he gave Jefferson close to $3,700 in cash.

Jefferson played for the Trojans during the 2007-08 season, his one and only year with USC, where he averaged 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He then declared for the NBA draft, but was not selected.

He has since been playing basketball overseas.

The connection between Schenter, 49, and USC is still unclear, according to the report, but e-mails suggest that he was exploring venture business options and was looking to Jefferson as a potential marketer.

The inquiry also involves former USC running back and current New York Jet Joe McKnight.

E-mails obtained by the LA Times show intent for payment to Jefferson, but there are no return e-mails or indications as to whether the transaction was ever made.

Among the possible business ventures that Schenter was reportedly looking into were themed vans, adorned with hot tubs and an exterior featuring Jefferson and former USC star O.J. Mayo.

To read the full report, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

So which Big 12 recruit got paid “six figures”?

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My favorite part of Eric Prisbell’s article from USA Today was a quote from former Houston head coach Tom Penders:

In six seasons as head coach at Houston, Penders estimated, an AAU coach or his agent asked Penders for money in return for the commitment of a prospect at least 25 times. On one occasion, an AAU coach and his agent visited Penders’ office with two offers: Pay tens of thousands of dollars in return for a player’s commitment, or place an AAU coach on his staff to establish a pipeline.

“I threw him out of my office,” Penders said.

Penders said the player, whom the coach declined to identify, spent one season at a Big 12 school before being drafted in the second round of the NBA draft. Penders said the AAU coach collected “six figures” from the Big 12 school that chose to engage in the scheme.

Penders was at Houston from 2004-2010.

In those six years, there were only three players that went to a Big 12 school, left after their freshman season and eventually got picked in the second round of the NBA Draft: Texas A&M’s DeAndre Jordan, Oklahoma’s Tiny Gallon and Kansas State’s Bill Walker.

Jordan is a Houston native. Gallon admitted to taking $3,000 from a financial advisor in Florida. Walker was OJ Mayo’s high school teammate. Anyone want to take a guess at who it was?

(Doing this research, I have to point out here that Jordan signed with Billy Gillispie at A&M. That’s the same Billy Gillispie whose Kentucky recruits wound up playing at Appalachian State, Sam Houston State, Asbury (NAIA), New Mexico State, Florida International, WKU and Sonoma State (D-II). Wow.)

Photo credit: Houston Chronicle

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Sleaze is alive and well in the recruiting world

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If you’re into reading about the darker side of college basketball and college basketball recruiting, than Wednesday was a day in heaven for you.

First, it was Eric Prisbell from USA Today delving into the murky waters of the third-party recruiter. And while I’m not going to spoil the story, the part that is the most interesting centers around why is it so difficult to catch these guys.

It’s a thought that has crossed my mind many times. I don’t spend nearly as much time in recruiting circles as lot of the more well-known writers and I’ve heard numerous rumors about Recruit X getting Y amount of dollars from Coach Z. I’m sure there are guys out there that can detail you precise figures for all of the transactions that have occurred over the last decade. How much did OJ Mayo get from USC? Why is John Calipari cornering the market on the blue-chip recruit? What amount of money did it take for Adidas to keep Shabazz Muhammad in the family?

So how come none of this becomes public record? Why aren’t schools getting hammered with NCAA sanctions? From Prisbell’s story:

The problem for the NCAA, according to ESPN national recruiting analyst Dave Telep, is that the schemes are “too easy to get done and too difficult to prove. The people within the world of college and AAU basketball have a pretty good idea that that is out there. They also have no idea how to combat it.”

With the absence of a “paper trail,” Telep said, proving illicit relationships is difficult. More than two-thirds of elite AAU programs are established as non-profits. Some receive a few hundred thousand dollars in donations – in addition to shoe company contracts – according to a review of their tax records.

Policing is difficult because the tax forms often do not disclose specific names of donors. Humphrey, the NCAA official, characterized the non-profit foundation issue as “very high on our radar” and “difficult to track.” But she said AAU teams must cooperate fully during NCAA investigations if they wish to compete at NCAA-certified events, which give prospects the chance to perform in front of hundreds of college coaches.

“We are also very well aware of connections that some of those summer programs — via the agent, via the runner — may have with our own institutions,” Humphrey said. “So we are also connecting the dots in terms of what [college] coaching staff might have some questionable relationships with some of these individuals.”

Gary Parrish followed up Prisbell’s story with a column on how summer hoops hasn’t gotten any less sleazy in the six years since Sonny Vaccaro hung ’em up.

In fact, there’s an argument to be made that things are even worse. Nike and Adidas are just as strong as ever, Reebok is trying to make a comeback, and Under Armour is doing everything they can to work their way into the shoe game. They’re hosting tournaments and sponsoring teams. That’s why you see the Harrison twins, arguably the most sought after package deal in the history of the sport, rocking UA shoes and playing in UA events.

And it’s also why they have become one of the most intriguing recruitments in recent memory:

One of the interesting recruiting battles over the coming months will be for the services of twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and most expect it to come down to Kentucky and Maryland.

Why Kentucky and Maryland?

Because Kentucky is Kentucky and John Calipari is John Calipari, and those two entities have a way of getting things done. And because Maryland is the alma mater of Kevin Plank, who is the CEO of Under Armour, which is the company that outfits Maryland’s athletic department and this summer funded the Harrison twins, both of whom are consensus top-10 prospects.

Thank god that we force these kids to remain amateurs and student-athletes to prevent them from capitalizing off of their athletic ability.

Why pay the player when his handler can get rich?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.