As a corruption scandal rocks the NCAA, some members of the Wizards paused to reflect on the news. The federal investigation has exposed the underbelly of college basketball recruiting, prompting John Wall to take note of the dirty side of recruiting.
“I have no comment about the situation but yeah, if you’re the No. 1 guy, top guy, you’re going to have guys come at you but you have to be smart about it,” Wall, who was the top point guard in the ESPN 100 class back in 2009, said. “You’re only going to school for one year, there’s no point in doing all that extra stuff. If you’ve never had money and been poor your whole life, another eight months won’t hurt.”
Wall explained how his lack of trust helped guide him away from temptation of improper payments.
“I grew up without a dad since the age of 9 so it was just my mom working three or four jobs to make sure my family is straight,” Wall said. “If you couldn’t provide for me then, what are you going to provide for me when I’m 17, 18 years old for eight months? You know what I mean? Couldn’t do nothing for me then. I’ve been poor my whole life, so eight months — I’m going to school, what is that money going to do for me?”
Wizards guard Sheldon Mac, who played two seasons (2014-16) at Miami, expressed concerns for his basketball alma mater, and his former coach, Jim Larranaga.
The Hurricanes’ basketball program is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly bribing top recruits to play for the program, according to the school president. On Tuesday, four assistant coaches at several top-tier Division I programs were arrested in the widespread bribery and fraud case. Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was also placed on unpaid administrative leave by Louisville after the university was named in the scandal. As of Thursday afternoon, no Miami coaches have been charged or placed on leave.
Mac, adamantly defended Larrañaga, stating disbelief that he would be involved in illegal activities.
“My first reaction was I know Coach L didn’t do anything,” Mac said. “That’s all I thought, honestly. I don’t know what actually went on but all I know is Coach L would never do such things to get any recruits, or pay any recruits or do anything illegal. He’s just not about that.”
An attorney for Larrañaga informed the Sun Sentinel that the coach “is unaware of any impropriety on the part of UM basketball.” Mac said he plans to give Larrañaga some space during this process and therefore has not yet reached out. However from Richmond, the site of the Wizards’ training camp, Mac’s thoughts are with his coach, especially as he ponders the worst-case scenario.
“If something happens to Coach L,” Mac said. “I’d be pretty upset.”
Mac transferred to Miami after playing his first two years of eligibility with the Texas Longhorns. Though Mac landed at two high-profile programs, he said he was never offered payments to attend a particular school.
“I wasn’t a five-star recruit or anything like that but I had schools that wanted me,” Mac said. “No one ever offered me money and even if they did, I would never take it because — I just wouldn’t because it wouldn’t be right.”