Top high school prospect Shareef O’Neal has de-committed from the Arizona Wildcats after the team’s coach was dragged into the FBI probe on college basketball playoffs.
In a Twitter post, the son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal wrote, “At this time I’m am opening up my recruitment due to the current events with the UofA Bball team.I would like to thank all the coaches for recruiting me. At the time my family and I think it’s in my best interest to look at other options to assure my play in the NCAA next year.”
According to the ESPN report, Wildcats coach Sean Miller reportedly discussed with Christian Dawkins giving $100,000 to Deandre Ayton to play for Arizona. The report was from the phone conversations between the two as caught by the FBI wiretaps.
Dawkins was supposedly a runner for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller, the central figure in the investigation.
On Saturday, Miller was a no-show on Arizona’s loss to Oregon. In that game, Ayton scored 28 points and pulled down 18 rebounds.
In a statement, Miller said that sitting out would be the best interest of the team. He said that he fully supports the efforts of the university to get to the bottom of the scandal and in the end, he would be vindicated by the results.
Ayton, meanwhile, denied receiving such amount.
A lawyer for the family said that they are “outraged and disgusted” dragging the 6-9 forward into the pay-for-play scandal.
“[Ayton] directly stated to the FBI, more than six months ago, that he never discussed or solicited payments from the University of Arizona, or any other university, or any shoe company or anyone on behalf of either – Period,” the statement read. “This includes basketball and anything else.”
The FBI investigation already dragged NBA rookies, Dennis Smith Jr. and Kyle Kuzma, among others.