Report: Sean Miller Discussed Paying Deandre Ayton $100K to Commit to Arizona

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2018

Arizona head coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tucson, Ariz. UCLA defeated Arizona 82-74. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
Ralph Freso/Associated Press

Arizona Wildcats head basketball coach Sean Miller was reportedly recorded by FBI wiretaps speaking to Christian Dawkins, an associate of former NBA agent Andy Miller, about facilitating a $100,000 payment to prized prospect Deandre Ayton so he would commit to the school. 

According to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, Miller "had multiple conversations about Ayton" with Dawkins, and he told Dawkins to "deal directly with him when it came to money" rather than with assistant coach Emanuel Richardson.

Richardson was among the four assistant coaches arrested by the FBI in September. 

Ayton, a 5-star recruit and the fourth-ranked player in the class of 2017, committed to Arizona on Sept. 6, 2016. 

The freshman center is averaging 19.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while shooting 60.6 percent from the field through his first 28 collegiate appearances. Ayton has also canned 33.3 percent of his three-point attempts and 42.5 percent of his two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman currently has Ayton penciled in as the No. 1 overall player on his big board ahead of the 2018 NBA draft. 

News of Miller's alleged discussions with Dawkins comes on the same day Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel and Pat Forde reported documents obtained during the FBI investigation show Andy Miller, Dawkins and ASM Sports helped funnel money to some of the sport's biggest programs and players. 

"With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement, per Thamel and Forde. "The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts."

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