Mark Schlabach’s recent report about Arizona head coach Sean Miller illegally paying basketball recruits was a bombshell, to say the least. But was the ESPN story entirely true?
Schlabach reported that FBI wiretaps revealed Miller discussed paying $100,000 to ensure a commitment from now-freshman Deandre Ayton, who is projected to be a top-five pick in the NBA Draft. And while the report implicated Miller more than anyone, it also painted Ayton in a bad light.
But Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen claims ESPN botched many aspects of the story, including Ayton’s involvement.
“I don’t even think it was Deandre Ayton who was mentioned in that report,” Hansen said during a recent appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s “Bickley & Marotta” radio show. “I think it was (former Louisville commit) Brian Bowen. I think they got that wrong. I think there are so many (things) that ESPN screwed it up.
“I talked to someone yesterday — his name might rhyme with ‘look’ — and he said that it wasn’t Ayton at all. It was (former Louisville commit) Brian Bowen.”
Hansen was referring to former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who was arrested in September for federal bribery, fraud and other corruption charges related to his work within NCAA basketball.
Yet Hansen later clarified he did not speak directly to Richardson about the ESPN story.
“I don’t know if it’s true or not … That’s second-hand info,” he said on 98.7’s “Burns & Gambo.”
To be clear, Book Richardson did not speak to me about anything. He is under instructions not to speak to any media. I did not attempt to speak to him, either.
— Greg Hansen (@ghansen711) February 27, 2018
As for Bowen, the 19-year-old former Louisville commit now plays for South Carolina, and was identified in Yahoo Sports’ recent expose on the latest and greatest NCAA corruption scandal.
Ayton played for the Wildcats against Oregon on Saturday, hours after ESPN published its story — a move that suggests Arizona believes he is innocent. Miller, meanwhile, didn’t coach in the game, and many wonder if he’s coached his final game in college basketball.