LEXINGTON, Ky. — Bam Adebayo’s high school coach finds it hard to believe the former High Point (N.C.) Christian Academy and University of Kentucky star accepted tens of thousands of dollars from an agent as alleged in a bombshell Yahoo Sports report that implicated several powerhouse college programs and high-profile players on Friday morning.
“I’m kind of surprised by it. I’ve never known Bam to take a dime from anybody. I’ve seen no evidence of that — no change of lifestyle while he was in high school or college — and he’s a good kid who wants to do things the right way,” former High Point coach Brandon Clifford told SEC Country. “When you have these big-time athletes, there’s often other people involved around them. I know Bam wasn’t running around setting up meetings with agents. I don’t know what all happened, but I know the kid and he always wants to do the right thing.
“He wouldn’t have jeopardized his future at Kentucky. I would bet there’s a lot more truth that hasn’t had a chance to come out yet.”
EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Knox Sr. denies meeting with agent
The Yahoo report, citing documents seized by federal agents from agent Andy Miller and his ASM Sports agency, revealed a spreadsheet listing a $12,000 payment to “BAM” and another that lists a $36,500 loan to Adebayo that was notated with “bad loan,” presumably because he did not sign with Miller and ASM after his one season at Kentucky.
That document is dated December 2015, which would have been while Adebayo was in high school.
John Calipari — along with Kentucky’s athletic director and president — issued a statement on Friday in which the Cats coach said: “I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates. Neither my staff nor I utilized any agent, including Andy Miller or any of his associates, to provide any financial benefits to a current or former Kentucky student-athlete.”
Adebayo’s high school coach, who played college basketball with Wildcats assistant coach Joel Justus, said he believes Calipari.
“From Day 1 when Cal came in, he said, ‘We’re going to do things the right way.’ They’re in a position where they don’t have to cheat,” Clifford said. “There was never anything remotely shady about how they recruited Bam. It was always on the up and up, never even a suggestion of anything. I was fairly involved in that part of the process — Bam was 3 hours from home and I helped him through his recruitment — and I never saw them do anything untoward.
“At a program like Kentucky, you know the microscope is huge and they’re not going to slip up. That was probably one of the biggest things that intrigued Bam about Kentucky: They were always honest with him. Cal just had to say, ‘Come with us and work hard and keep your nose clean for a year and you’ll be in the NBA.’ ”
The Miami Heat selected Adebayo No. 14 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. He is averaging 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a rookie and making $2.5 million this season. He helped the Wildcats win 32 games and reach the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight last season.
“I texted him this morning,” Clifford said. “My only communication was, ‘Are you good?’ And he said yeah, he’s good. That’s all I needed to know. I haven’t talked to him about any of the specifics, so I don’t know what the plan is at this point.”
The Heat announced Friday that Adebayo will not comment on the report.