LSU's Will Wade faces another serious recruiting allegation

LSU head coach Will Wade during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
LSU head coach Will Wade during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP)

A third inference of LSU coach Will Wade attempting to pay for a player in recruiting emerged in federal court on Monday.

In a surreptitiously recorded conversation, an Arizona assistant coach, Emanuel “Book” Richardson, said that Wade told him in relation to Tiger star freshman Naz Reid: “Look, there’s a deal in place, I got $300,000 for him.”

According to the recording, Richardson said he told Wade in response: "Give me half and I'll make sure the kid goes there."

Reid, a 6-foot-10 forward, was regarded as the best player in the state of New Jersey in the class of 2018 and has declared for the NBA draft after averaging 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds for LSU last season.

The invoking of another serious potential NCAA allegation against Wade emerged in the bribery trial of middleman Christian Dawkins and former sneaker executive Merl Code. It ramped up the pressure on Wade, who has already been attempting to navigate two other significant recruiting issues tied to the federal corruption investigation. The NCAA also was looking into his recruiting within the past two years, prior to any of these details emerging. Wade’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment from Yahoo Sports. LSU issued a statement: “We are continuing to monitor the situation. Due to the fluid nature of this matter, LSU will refrain from commenting until further notice.”

The only permanent personnel change that LSU has undergone in the wake of the basketball program’s troubles is casting aside athletic director Joe Alleva, who was already perceived to be on thin ice for personality issues and an inability to relate to donors. LSU suspended Wade for the last game of the regular season, the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament before reinstating him on April 14. Alleva left his role three days later.

A transcript of a wiretap emerged in the first federal basketball corruption trial in October of Wade discussing a deal for prospect Balsa Koprivica. In a transcript read in court by a defense attorney, Wade announces he’s shutting his office door and says, “I can get you what you need” in relation to Koprivica. The defense attorney clarified, “meaning money,” in reference to what Wade said. In March, Yahoo Sports reported that Wade discussed on FBI wiretaps making a “strong-ass offer” for recruit Javonte Smart. Wade expounded on that offer, saying: “It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact [middleman Shannon Forman] didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”

The Yahoo story and Wade’s initial refusal to meet with school officials to discuss it led to a suspension that lasted more than a month. It only ended after Wade met with school officials earlier in April.

New LSU athletic director Scott Woodward, who came from league rival Texas A&M, starts a week from today. It’s unknown if he’s even been fully briefed on the Wade situation.

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