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Report: Wiretaps reveal UA coach Sean Miller discussed payment of top recruit

Posted at 8:46 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-24 18:25:30-05

FBI wiretaps revealed Arizona Wildcats men's basketball coach Sean Miller discussed a $100,000 payment to prized recruit Deandre Ayton, ESPN reported Friday.

Miller reportedly discussed payment with Christian Dawkins, who has become an integral part of the FBI's ongoing investigation into corruption in college basketball.

"Miller and Dawkins, a runner working for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller, had multiple conversations about Ayton," ESPN's Mark Schlabach wrote. "When Dawkins asked Miller if he should work with assistant coach Emanuel 'Book' Richardson to finalize their agreement, Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money, the sources said."

Richardson was one of four assistant coaches who allegedly accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents, according to a report released in September. Richardson was arrested after allegedly accepting $20,000 in bribes and used money to influence at least one basketball player to commit to play for Arizona. In early October, Miller said he was "devastated" to learn of Richardson's actions.

Schlabach reported the phone calls between Miller and Dawkins were part of 3,000 hours of conversations intercepted by the FBI.

Ayton, a 7-foot-1 freshman from the Bahamas, is the Pac-12's leading scorer and rebounder this season. He is projected by most experts to be the No. 1 or 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Miller has been UA's head basketball coach since 2009. He has led the Wildcats to four Pac-12 regular-season championships and is a three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

On Thursday, UA guard Allonzo Trier, the Pac-12's second leading scorer (behind Ayton), was ruled ineligible by the NCAA after testing positive for a banned substance. It is the second time in less than two years that Trier has been ruled ineligible for failing a drug test.

Earlier on Friday, several top NCAA basketball programs and players were identified in an FBI probe as possibly violating NCAA violations. Those programs include Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and USC.