The federal basketball corruption trial that’s been going on in New York for more than a week continues to link back to the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball program, this time implicating the family of June’s No. 1 overall draft pick.
At trial, Adidas AAU coach and consultant TJ Gassnola testified he provides payments to players/families of Billy Preston (KU), Silvio De Sousa (KU, Broan Bowen (UoL), Dennis Smith (NC State) and Deandre Ayton (Arizona)— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) October 10, 2018
Ayton was one of current or former college basketball players identified by Gassnola, who pled guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in April. He is cooperating with the prosecution in an FBI bribery investigation involving college hoops programs and apparel companies.
Former Adidas executive Jim Gatto, former Adidas employee Merl Code and business manager Christian Dawkins are each facing felony wire fraud charges.
No specifics were given about what sort of payment Gassnola made to Ayton’s family. Ayton played for Arizona, a Nike school, in 2017-18 and after being drafted first overall by the Phoenix Suns he signed an endorsement deal with Puma.
This is the third time since the trial began Oct. 1 that Arizona has been mentioned. In opening statements the attorney for Gatto said Arizona offered to pay $150,000 to recruit Nassir Little—who signed with North Carolina—and on Thursday the father of prospect Brian ‘Tugs’ Bowen testified that Dawkins told him Arizona offered $50,000 for his son to play in Tucson.