Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller was caught discussing a $100,000 payment for star freshman DeAndre Ayton on an intercepted telephone conversation by FBI wiretaps, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.
Miller was discussing the arrangement with Christian Dawkins, one of the main figures in the FBI investigation, so Ayton, a 5-star center from Phoenix, would be sure to come play his collegiate ball in Tucson.
From the ESPN report:
According to people with knowledge of the FBI investigation, Miller and Dawkins, a runner working for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller, had multiple conversations about Ayton. When Dawkins asked Miller if he should work with assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson to finalize their agreement, Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money, the sources said.
Richardson was one of the four assistant coaches arrested in September by the FBI and is accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes. Pleading not guilty, Richardson has been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, wire fraud conspiracy, mail fraud conspiracy and travel act conspiracy solicitation of bribes by an agent of a federally funded organization and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.
He was officially fired by the University of Arizona on Jan. 11.
Ayton, who is averaging 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds this season, is expected to be a high first-round draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Originally from Bahamas, Ayton was the consensus top-ranked recruit in the 2017 signing class, ultimately choosing to play at Arizona over Kansas and Kentucky.
Earlier on Friday, a report by Yahoo Sports detailed the names of both programs and players that have possibly broken NCAA rules and were being investigated by the FBI, including major powerhouses such as Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina and Michigan State, among others and top freshmen, including Alabama’s Colin Sexton, Duke’s Wendell Carter and Kentucky’s Kevin Knox.