LSU coach Will Wade: 'I have never done any business of any kind with Christian Dawkins' | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / October 21.
  • LSU coach Will Wade: ‘I have never done any business of any kind with Christian Dawkins’

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    NEW YORK — LSU coach Will Wade on Wednesday responded to the fact that his name came up during the Adidas college basketball bribery trial here on Tuesday.

    “Certainly, I don’t want to react to what a defense attorney said yesterday,” Wade said at SEC Media Day, per the Daily Advertister. “I get it. And I understand the judge didn’t let it in, but what I will say is that I’m very proud of everything I’ve done as the LSU basketball coach. And I have never, ever done any business of any kind with Christian Dawkins.”

    Dawkins is one of three defendants in the case — along with former Adidas executive Jim Gatto and former Adidas consultant Merl Code. The defendants are charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the case. Closing arguments began Wednesday and will continue Thursday.

    Wade was the subject of a phone call the defense tried to enter into evidence Tuesday. On that call, Wade tells Dawkins “that he can get him what he needs, meaning money, if a high school player in Florida, Balsa Koprivica, agrees to play for LSU,” defense attorney Casey Donnelly argued.

    ”We think is indicative of — we think it’s relevant to Mr. Dawkins’ intent and his belief that he was not hurting these universities, but in fact, based on his understanding of Division I coaches, was giving them what they wanted.”

    Koprivica is a Class of 2019 recruit from Serbia who plays at Montverde Academy in Florida. He is being recruited by LSU, Baylor and Florida State, among others.

    Donnelly says the call starts with Dawkins telling Wade “so you said to me in Atlanta there was a 2019 kid I wanted to recruit, they can get him to LSU, you would have funded. Would you want Balsa?

    “Then Mr. Wade says: ‘Oh, the big kid?’ Because Balsa is a real big, tall kid. And Christian confirms. Then Coach Wade says, and excuse my language: ‘OK. But there’s other (expletive) involved in it.’ Then he says, ‘I have got to shut my door.’”

    Before Kaplan denied the call entered into evidence, Steven A. Haney, Dawkins’ attorney said: “This is evidence … where the head basketball coach — not a low-level assistant — the head basketball coach of a major university is actually talking with my client about the very things that this case is about.”

    In February a Yahoo Sports story said the NCAA had started a preliminary investigation into Wade’s recruiting during his time at VCU from 2015-17.

    “Members of the NCAA enforcement staff have spent parts of the past six months (September 2017-February 2018) looking into the recruiting tactics of LSU coach Will Wade, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the situation,” the Yahoo Sports story said, via the Advertiser. “Wade’s early recruiting activity at LSU prompted the NCAA enforcement interest.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.