LSU basketball head coach Will Wade was caught on an FBI wiretap talking about an offer to a recruit, according to a new report by Yahoo! Sports. The player in question appears to be Javonte Smart, a freshman guard who has helped the Tigers crack the top-10 of the AP Poll for the first time in 12 years.
Here’s the part of the conversation Yahoo! uncovered on Thursday morning:
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade is heard saying on the wiretap. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”
“Dude,” Wade continued to Dawkins, referring to the third party involved in the recruitment, “I went to him with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong.
“The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now, it was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit,” Wade continued. “It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”
Dawkins responded by saying, “Hmmmm.”
“It was a [expletive] hell of a [expletive] offer,” Wade continued. “Hell of an offer.”
“OK,” Dawkins said.
“Especially for a kid who is going to be a two- or three-year kid,” Wade said.
On March 8, LSU announced that it would be suspending Wade indefinitely:
Wade and Arizona’s Sean Miller were both subpoenaed to court for an April trial where former agency middle man Christian Dawkins and one-time Adidas executive Merl Code will be the defendants.
A conversation between Wade and Dawkins discussing a potential payment to class of 2019 recruit Balsa Koprivica has already been made public. Koprivica ultimately committed to Florida State.
Note Wade’s language doesn’t directly spell out what he meant with this “offer”. It could just be a full ride to the university! It also doesn’t implicitly state that “this Smart thing” means he’s talking about Javonte Smart.
While the semantics of the conversation can be argued in court, it sure seems like LSU could be looking for a new head basketball coach soon.
This is likely going to undermine Wade’s success at LSU
LSU has been one of the best stories of the college basketball season to this point. The Tigers are currently 25-5 overall and tied for first place in the SEC with Tennessee. This will be the second time in the last 10 years the Tigers have made the NCAA tournament. Imagine the embarrassment for the NCAA if they go all the way to the Final Four!
Wade has done an amazing job on the recruiting trial, landing star point guard Tremont Waters, now a sophomore, ahead of his first season in charge. His freshman class this season has been star-studded, featuring blue chip recruits Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams in addition to Smart.
Smart was a consensus top-40 recruit out of high school who put together a brilliant prep career in Baton Rouge. The 6’4 guard is averaging 11.5 points and 2.5 assists per game this season. He’s come on strongly lately, putting up at least 15 points in his four games. How the Tigers do with Wade’s absence just a couple weeks before NCAA tournament time remains to be seen.
This is business as usual in college basketball
If Javonte Smart did get something greater than a college scholarship to play basketball for LSU: good for him. Being compensated for your work is only a crime in the twisted world of the NCAA and nowhere else.
The FBI scandal has put a spotlight on blackmarket deals like the one Wade allegedly put together for Smart. Just know this is happening throughout the country, probably with your team and definitely with your biggest rival.
As long as the NCAA continues to cling to its outdated model of amateurism, a black market will exist. There’s simply too much money involved for it not to happen. The NCAA can stiffen the rules and get the real cops to enforce their fake laws, but college basketball will continue to operate this way until players can be compensated fairly for their work.