Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 10:07 am
By Gary Parrish
The text message came early Thursday from a longtime college basketball coach.
Here's what it said:
"We have kids going to college who don't want to go to college. If the NBA doesn't want them, then the D-League should be set up for them. But the sad fact is that these kids are getting paid more money to go to college for a year than to play in the D-League."
The text was an obvious reaction to the Washington Post's story on Michael Beasley's lawsuit against his former summer coach (Curtis Malone) and agent (Joel Bell) that has already muddied the reputations of the summer coach and agent and seems likely of vacating Beasley's one season at Kansas State. As my colleague Matt Norlander pointed out, Beasley and his mother have basically acknowledged receiving extra benefits throughout high school and college. Assuming the NCAA follows up, it's hard to imagine a scenario that doesn't involve the NBA veteran being ruled retroactively ineligible just like former Memphis star Derrick Rose was ruled retroactively ineligible and former USC star O.J. Mayo was ruled retroactively ineligible. In other words, the top three picks from the 2008 NBA Draft -- each of whom was a one-and-done prospect -- will eventually be wiped from the official record books. They are celebrated recruits turned permanent stains.
That, my friends, is a system problem.
And it should be noted that the NCAA didn't catch any of them.
The SAT security testing agency caught Rose cheating on his SAT, Yahoo! Sports exposed Mayo, and Beasley basically outed himself in a lawsuit that highlights the underbelly of high-major recruiting. The NCAA initially cleared them all to compete as freshmen, somebody else later discovered a problem, and now Memphis and USC have 2007-08 seasons that don't count, and Kansas State will join them in time. These are messy situations but hardly surprises because the system in place creates such issues.
Elite basketball prospects are commodities well before they're even recruitable student-athletes according to NCAA rules, meaning agents get their fingers in them long before college coaches. They are compromised early on and in many cases have no desire or real need to attend college. But the NBA's one-and-done rule essentially forces them to campus where they have to pretend to be amateurs, and, let's be honest, they're almost never amateurs by the NCAA's definition. Still, there's lots of pressure on college coaches to enroll the best prospects, and so they do even when they know it's risky. Then the coaches, agents, players and, some would say, the NCAA are all left to cross their fingers and hope nobody gets caught because part of the allure of college basketball is the idea that these are just college kids playing for the love of the school.
But it's all horsesh-t.
Complete and total horsesh-t.
The top three picks of the 2008 NBA Draft are proof.
We'll continue to add names to the list until the system is overhauled.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: October 26, 2011 9:58 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 10:41 pm
By Matt Norlander
Michael Beasley is suing the person who, at one point in his life, was probably the second- or third-most vital human being to Beasley's success in basketball. The other is his former agent.
Wednesday night, The Washington Post reported an expansive story on Beasley -- one of the biggest impact players in college basketball in 2008 -- suing Joel Bell, who briefly (officially) represented Beasley through September of 2008, and Curtis Malone, Beasley's AAU coach in high school.
The suit is a counter to Bell's suit that Beasley ended his contract prematurely.
Beasley was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft. This legal fight has been a long time coming, and because it's over broken verbal and written contracts, the seedy side of amateur athletics comes leaking out the side of the foundation.
As for the collegiate angle, there's no telling if this will affect Kansas State in any way, or Dalonte Hill, the former K-State assistant now at Maryland who got Beasley to play for the Wildcats.
You want to know how things get done at the AAU level? This is it. And it's only getting out because former friends, coach and player, have gotten into a tussle over money. An agent was promised a player would be his, and that promise didn't quite work out.
Money gets players and coaches and schools and agents and runners into these situations, and many times, it tosses them out of them, into the light where rolled eyes come just after fingers point with cynicism instead of amazement. Coaches, agents and would-be agents see talent at 13, 14 and 15 years of age, and the plan is concocted. Let's get that kid. Let's get him now. You get him on your team, you push him toward me when he's older, and I'll represent him when he's making NBA money.
Many times, this happens without a kerfuffle. Other times relationships go sour and word never escapes. But Beasley and Bell were separated mere months after the business marriage, and now the dispute is public.
Beasley asserts in his suit that Bell Sports Incorporated President Joel Bell bankrolled Curtis Malone’s nationally recognized DC Assault summer basketball program and that in return Malone felt obliged to steer Beasley ... to Bell for professional representation. Beasley’s suit contends that, along the way, Bell and Malone violated NCAA rules and federal laws governing agent conduct. Beasley’s accusations are part of a countersuit against Bell and a third-party claim against Malone filed Sept. 27 in Montgomery County Circuit Court in response to a Jan. 21 breach-of-contract suit filed by Bell Sports Inc. against Beasley. Bell’s original suit claims Beasley wrongfully terminated his representation agreement with Bell Sports Inc. just prior to signing an endorsement deal with Adidas.Ah, yes. There's the shoe company, and those are just as responsible for the rule-breaking behavior in amateur sports as any other, organization or outfit. The story depicts Bell and Malone as a duo who frequently helped out Beasley and his family, taking care of everything from food to travel to getting out of serious vehicle violations, like driving with a suspended license, which Beasley's mother was nabbed for.
Malone's lawyer, Bill Heyman, told the Post, “Mr. Malone absolutely denies the allegations of impropriety made against him in the third-party complaint.”
Bell and Malone and Beasley won't be speaking about this publicly. They never intended to, and long after the suing ends, maybe they'll pipe up, but there won't be much new information to gather, I wouldn't imagine. The Post's story depicts Beasley's mother depicting Malone -- Beasley AAU coach, remember -- as a runner. And unfortunately, that's how some are seen. A lot of these AAU coaches are tied into agents and runners, and become de factors themselves. They're incubating potential gold-making chickens; you're expecting them not to flirt with the temptation?
To add another layer to this, it's known that Beasley used to stay with Malone regularly. Beasley attended five high schools, was highly coveted, and without much consistency in his life, Malone was a constant. The two were very close. Now there's this. A fallout because a relationship was built of money and the prospect of getting rich off a prospect.
The Post reports that between 2005 and 2009, DC Assault brought in nearly $600,000 in "contributions and grants." The team, like many AAU programs, is registered as a charity. Since it's a public charity, donors to the program are not mandatory to be listed. The report is dense, so very detailed and really well-done. A lot of it has to do with issues between Beasley and Bell well after he left college, but this issue started in the echoey gyms when Beasley was a naive high school freshman, and two guys conspired to team up with him in hopes of using his ability to make them wealthy.
It happens so often in hoops. Exposing it is nearly impossible, because the interested parties don't benefit from squealing. Something bad needs to happen. Someone needs to get burned. In this case, long after college and AAU is behind them, nobody's afraid to confront the seedy past.