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College Basketball Insider

Sir Charles once tried to buy Dirk for Auburn after watching him torch Scottie Pippen

Auburn has a new recruiting scandal on its hands.

Not really.

But it is hilarious the school's most famous former basketball player -- Charles Barkley -- acknowledged at a celebrity softball game over the weekend he once tried to illegally recruit Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki to play for the Tigers after watching the German, still an undrafted teenager at the time, drop "like 52" points on Scottie Pippen.

"So I call Nike and I says, 'Find out about this kid and tell him I'll give him anything he wants to go to Auburn,'" Barkley said in what appeared to be a pregame or postgame locker room chat with other softball participants, among them Nowitzki himself. "'Just tell him, anything he wants, we'll get it done.'"

As you know, Nowitzki never played college basketball. So this recruiting pitch didn't go nearly as well as the school's attempt to land Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, on whom Barkley also had an opinion.

"Everybody wants to give us a hard time about giving Cam Newton $200,000," Barkley said. "That's called a good damn investment. We got him for 200 grand? Are you kidding me? That's a good deal!"

It's possible, of course, that Barkley exaggerated the story about his recruiting pitch to Nowitzki for the sake of a laugh because he's a great storyteller, and that's what great storytellers sometimes do. But the larger point -- that most elite prospects are at least offered extra benefits -- registers regardless and is bottom-lined best in another Barkley quote from the video posted on YouTube.

"[Nowitzki] would have fit right in in the SEC," Barkley said. "In the SEC, dude, we make sure you're well taken care of."


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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