It’s been three weeks since federal authorities announced their initial findings of an investigation into corruption in college basketball that led to the arrests of 10 people — including four high-level assistant coaches — and shook the sport to its core.
As expected, the scandal has already had a huge effect on recruiting.
Some of college basketball’s biggest programs have seen their prospects with top high school recruits dwindle in the wake of the federal investigation, and the possibility that more teams will be implicated in the near future has cast a cloud over the entire recruiting landscape.
Here’s a look at the biggest recruiting casualties of the scandal (so far):
No program has been hit harder than U of L, which — though no one directly associated with the team has been arrested as a result of the federal investigation — has lost all three of its future commitments. Highly touted seniors Anfernee Simons and Courtney Ramey both decommitted from Louisville on the day that Coach Rick Pitino was put on administrative leave — Pitino was officially fired Monday — and five-star junior David Johnson, a Louisville native, backed off his pledge to the Cardinals a few days later.
Five-star seniors Romeo Langford and Moses Brown, who both had U of L near the top of their lists, also cut the Cardinals from consideration.
In addition to those recruits, five-star freshman Brian Bowen — one of the players at the center of the federal investigation — has been suspended from team activities and might never play for Louisville.
Simons was set to be Pitino’s highest-ranked signee since Samardo Samuels in 2008, and Florida has emerged as the new favorite in his recruitment. Missouri is the new leader on the Crystal Ball page of Ramey, a top-50 recruit in the 2018 class.
Assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson — one of the nation’s top recruiters — was arrested in connection with the scandal, and the uncertainty surrounding the Wildcats’ program has had a major impact on the recruiting trail.
All three of Arizona’s commitments for the 2018 class are sticking to their pledges (for now), but other high-profile players cut the Wildcats from their lists.
R.J. Barrett — the No. 1 player in the senior class — is no longer considering Arizona, which was recently seen as a possible dark-horse landing spot in his recruitment. Barrett has narrowed his list to Duke, Kentucky and Oregon.
Bol Bol — the No. 2 player in the Scout.com rankings for 2018 — also cut Arizona, and the Wildcats were the favorite on his Crystal Ball page before news of the investigation broke. Kentucky and Oregon are now Bol’s finalists, and UK is the new leader on his Crystal Ball page.
Arizona was also seen as the favorite for Simi Shittu — the No. 7 player in the 2018 class — before the scandal, but Shittu has since canceled a scheduled official visit to Tucson, and Vanderbilt is the new favorite on his Crystal Ball page.
Top 50 seniors Jahvon Quinerly, Shareef O’Neal and Brandon Williams all remain committed — giving Arizona the No. 2 class nationally — but that could change soon.
O’Neal — the son of NBA great Shaquille O’Neal — has been viewed as a decommitment possibility, though he’s still planning to visit Arizona this weekend and did not make a rumored trip to Big Blue Madness on Friday night.
It’ll be interesting to see what those three players do between now and the early signing period, which starts Nov. 8.
No one from Miami’s program has been arrested in relation to the federal investigation, but the Hurricanes’ inclusion in the federal report as “University 7” has had its consequences.
Nassir Little — a top-10 recruit in the 2018 class — was being recruited by Miami and was indirectly mentioned in the federal findings, and he has since committed to North Carolina. The Miami Herald reported last week that Little and his father denied under oath the bribery allegations mentioned in the federal case and any misconduct by the Hurricanes coaching staff.
Miami Coach Jim Larranaga has also denied any misconduct, defended his assistant coaches and urged federal authorities to clear the program of any wrongdoing in the case.
The Hurricanes were seen as the early favorites for Vernon Carey, ranked by some recruiting services as the No. 1 overall player in the 2019 class. Carey’s father is a former football star at the school, and he’s visited the campus several times (he was actually at the school less than a week before the scandal broke).
A few days after the federal report was made public, Duke overtook Miami as the leader on Carey’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page. UK, Kansas, Michigan State and North Carolina are among the other schools that have extended scholarship offers.
Assistant coach Tony Bland was arrested as a result of the federal investigation, and the Trojans lost a commitment from Top 100 senior J’Raan Brooks, who announced Friday that he was backing off of his pledge to the program.
USC was also cut by Bol Bol, one of the top high school basketball players in the country. Bol — the son of NBA great Manute Bol — lives in the Los Angeles area, and 247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer told the Herald-Leader in July that he considered the Trojans to be the favorite in Bol’s recruitment.
Assistant coach Lamont Evans, also a former assistant coach at South Carolina, was arrested as a result of the federal investigation.
Oklahoma State also lost a commitment from Top 100 senior Antwann Jones two days after federal authorities announced their findings. The Cowboys have zero commitments for the class of 2018.
Assistant coach Chuck Person was arrested in connection with the federal investigation, and the school announced shortly after the case became public that Auburn fans who had purchased season tickets could return them for a full refund.
The day after the scandal broke, the Tigers lost a commitment from five-star forward E.J. Montgomery, the No. 25 overall player in the class of 2018.
A future casualty of the college basketball scandal could be the one-and-done rule.
As Kentucky Coach John Calipari often reminds us, the rule — which prevents basketball players from entering the NBA until they’re at least one year removed from high school — is an NBA creation, not a college basketball rule.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver implied on Monday’s edition of the “Mike & Mike Show” that college basketball’s latest scandal could push the NBA to take another look at the rule, sooner rather than later.
“I think it may be the case, at this point, given the amount of money that is generated by their performances, that we as the NBA have to take a serious look at paying them, and even paying them much better than players currently receive in the G League,” Silver said. “It’s clear a change will come.”
Silver noted that the G League — the new name for the NBA developmental league — now has 26 teams with corresponding parent franchises in the NBA. The recent introduction of two-way contracts means a couple of players from each of those teams could end up earning $250,000 a year, a huge increase from past developmental league salaries.
The NBA commissioner also noted that the last two No. 1 picks in the NBA Draft — Louisiana State’s Ben Simmons and Washington’s Markelle Fultz — both played for college teams that did not make the NCAA Tournament.
“I think something has to change. As I’ve said before, it’s clearly not working for the college game,” he said. “From our standpoint, if the players in that one year of college aren’t getting the kind of development we’d like to see them get coming into the NBA, aren’t playing in the NCAA Tournament, aren’t competing against top-notch competition, I think we have to take a step back and figure out whether we’re better off taking those players at a younger age and working on their training and development full time.”
Ten of the top 11 players chosen in this year’s NBA Draft were one-and-done college players.
Silver acknowledged that changing the league’s minimum age requirement cannot be done without negotiating with the players’ union, and he said that he’s already had discussions with Michele Roberts, the executive director of the NBA players’ association, about that topic.
“These changes don’t have to wait until you finish a collective bargaining cycle,” Silver said.
He mentioned the possibility of sitting down this season to see what a “different framework” would look like, noting that the NBA had a record number of one-and-done draft picks earlier this year.
“I think it’s become common knowledge now that these so-called one-and-done players are, maybe understandably, almost entirely focused on where they’re going to go in the draft lottery (more so than college results),” Silver said. “Not to say they don’t badly care about winning but … the stakes are so high in terms of the amount of money they can make over a long NBA career as a star player, that’s sort of front and center what they’re focused on as college players.”