Blog Entry

Former 'Zona player talks Salinas and recruiting

Posted on: July 20, 2011 6:51 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 7:14 pm
By Matt Norlander

The faucet continues to drip.

Former five-star Arizona guard Jawann McClellan went on the record with the Arizona Republic, telling the newspaper he was "pretty sure" David Salinas was involved with college hoops coaches for more than just financial investments. 

McClellan is tied into this not just because he played basketball in the Houston area, but also because he was recruited by, and played for, Lute Olson at Arizona. Olson was reported to have lost $1.17 million dollars with Salinas, per a Sports Illustrated story that came out Tuesday.

McClellan did not say he was ever swayed -- nor attempted to be -- to play at Arizona by Salinas, though. It's just his feeling, his speculation that, despite Salinas appearing to be a pretty stand-up guy, he wouldn't put it past coaches to use the type of advantages Salinas could offer in an effort to get another prospect or two.

McClellan shocked some back in 2004 when he opted to leave the state and choose to play for the Wildcats out west.

"Coach Olson was probably one of his biggest clients and (committing to UA) caught a lot of people off guard," McClellan said Tuesday by phone from Houston. "A lot of people thought I was going to Texas, but I was confident in my decision."

McClellan said he chose the Wildcats primarily because of Olson and then-Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner, though he also considered Kentucky before committing to UA in the summer of 2002.

We still truly haven't seen a smoking gun -- yet. Maybe we won't. But now we've got a few men on the record who have spoken about the dangerous, less than transparent behavior from Salinas. The Daily's Dan Wolken got a pretty significant quote out of former Houston coach Tom Penders, who basically said he didn't feel comfortable dealing with Salinas due to the man's ties with AAU basketball.

Everyone's standing in the room, shifting their eyes and jingling change in their pockets. Who will talk first? Is there something big out there still in hiding?

When pressed about Salinas' involvement in choosing Arizona, McClellan said this to the Arizona Republic:

McClellan said Salinas was only involved in his decision to attend UA because he was a friend of former UA assistant and former Rice head coach Scott Thompson, who saw McClellan play travel-ball events for Salinas' Houston Select team.

Whether anyone else managed to curry favor with Salinas, McClellan declined to say.

"I'm pretty sure Coach did run one of top two programs in the city, and I'm pretty sure he had players loaded up so you'd think coaches tried to get a relationship with him," McClellan said. "But whether Salinas went for that is neither here nor there."

Plenty of reporters are now on the hunt for former coaches and players who dealt with Salinas. The leaky plumbing probably isn't going to be patched up any time soon. On the heels of our initial report Sunday night, we've now seen three straight days of new, informative reporting on the subject. This slow-boil of a story could take weeks before we can see the breadth of its reach and those who were or were not in the wrong.

Photo: AP

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