Brian Clifton swears he'll never be John Wall's agent or profit from his expected stardom.
You can believe him if you want.
But if I told you the No. 1 high school prospect in America (Wall) was being coached on the summer circuit and advised in the recruiting process by a man (Clifton) who was a licensed sports agent as recently as four months ago, what would you think? Would you believe it's all pure? Or would you be cynical, given how we live in a world where agents and the runners who work for them just tarnished the college career of O.J. Mayo and always seem to be only a whistle-blower away from doing the same to the majority of elite basketball prospects produced in any given year?
So that's why I couldn't help but be leery when I confirmed through FIBA that Clifton -- the man who runs the North Carolina-based D-One Sports program that finished second in the Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas last month -- spent roughly one year as a licensed sports agent.
In case you didn't catch that, what I just wrote is that the AAU coach of Rivals.com's No. 1 prospect spent roughly one year as an agent and remained that way until mid-April, when he forfeited his license because, well, that depends on who you ask.
Sources told CBSSports.com that Clifton withdrew his license to get around the NCAA's newly implemented online coaches approval program that features the following question:
Are you a licensed sports agent, runner/recruiter or representative/agent/employee of a sports agency?
Answer "Yes" to that question and you are automatically ineligible to be on the sideline for a summer league/AAU team. There is no gray area. So the only way for Clifton to honestly answer "No" was to withdraw his license, and doing that allowed him to spend the entire summer coaching prospects -- just like he did in the summer of 2007, when he still was a licensed agent -- and nurturing a relationship with the best prep point guard in the country.
That's what multiple sources claimed.
But Clifton scoffed at those sources and their theory.
Yes, he acknowledged he was a licensed agent until mid-April.