Instead of distancing himself as much as possible from the small-time agent accused of trying to buy his way into position to represent him, former Kansas star Ben McLemore has apparently done the opposite.
McLemore signed with that very same agent Rodney Blackstock, Sports Business Journal reported Tuesday.
Darius Cobb, McLemore's former AAU coach, told USA Today in May that Blackstock paid him and McLemore's cousin thousands of dollars in cash and gifts to steer the Kansas guard toward him as an agent. Blackstock's name also appeared on McLemore's pass list for multiple games this past season, according to the USA Today story.
That McLemore has apparently chosen Blackstock as his agent certainly should heighten NCAA investigators' interest in the story. McLemore defended himself last month at the NBA's draft combine, telling reporters in Chicago he invited Blackstock to Kansas games as a "friend" and he was not aware Blackstock had apparently paid his cousin and AAU coach to gain further influence.
"Rodney Blackstock has been great," McLemore told reporters in Chicago. "Since Day One, since I met him, we have got that bond and communicating very well. And that's why I chose him to help me with this process."
If the NCAA can prove Blackstock made payments designed to secure influence with McLemore, Kansas could face punishment -- perhaps even the nullification of the victories achieved after Cobb began accepting cash and gifts. NCAA rules state a player becomes ineligible if he, his relatives or friends accept transportation or other benefits from an agent or representative of an agent.
At the same time, as I wrote in May when this story broke, it's debatable whether Kansas deserves such a stiff penalty.
Perhaps Kansas officials could have discovered Blackstock was an aspiring agent if they had been more vigilant about examining his background when his name appeared on McLemore's pass list. Nonetheless, the payments Cobb insists he received had nothing to do with McLemore choosing Kansas. Therefore the Jayhawks gained nothing from any preexisting arrangement, yet they can still lose plenty.
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