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Marvin Bagley, Zion Williamson Brought Up In Corruption Trial

If only vaguely

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Duke v Kansas
 OMAHA, NE - MARCH 25: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second half in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at CenturyLink Center on March 25, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In Thursday’s corruption trial, both Marvin Bagley and Zion Williamson’s names came up although no particular allegations were made against Duke.

In Bagley’s case, USC was in early and apparently seen as a leader and in the covertly videotaped meeting, former financial adviser Marty Blazer said that “Tony (Bland) needed money to get to Marvin (Bagley III).

“He wasn’t going to go to UCLA or go to Duke. Tony was confident he had Marvin Bagley locked in at USC. When Marvin Bagley signs with USC, I need you guys on campus the moment he signs, be ready to get it to him ASAP.”

About Williamson, Merl Code who was also in the meeting,said this:“Duke is gonna have their resources. UNC is UNC. Kentucky is gonna have their resources.”

Blazer said he thought Dawkins was saying: “Duke, UNC and Kentucky will have people in place to pay whatever’s necessary for Zion Williamson. Whatever Zion Williamson’s family needed, we would be able to step in and [help with money] if it was close.”

Code also said that he believed Duke, UNC, Syracuse and Kentucky had options “like the ones we had Arizona … paying assistant coaches to get access to players.”

Well first of all as Matt Norlander says in the article linked here, that’s hearsay. He has no evidence for his allegations.

Secondly, we can’t really comment on anyone else’s staff, but we can talk a bit about Duke’s.

People will think what they want, but Mike Krzyzewski was raised by scrupulously honest people and refined that by living with the West Point Honor Code for four years and the rest of his life since then. We don’t believe for a minute that he got to his late 60s and said the heck with the way I’ve lived my life until now. I’m breaking bad.

And prior to this when thinking about this trial it occurred to us that one of the advantages of hiring former players is that you not only got to know them over an extended period of time, you also saw them grow from boys to men and you learned who most inculcated your values. We have a very difficult time believing that Nate James, son of a career Marine, Chris Carrawell, whose mother raised four highly successful children as a single mother in a blighted part of St. Louis, or Jon Scheyer, who has always struck us as an upright sort of guy.

Nor do we think Mike Krzyzewski would tolerate any nonsense. Aside from the widely known public stuff we base our skepticism on a few less well-known things.

First on two stories we heard some time ago. One we may have mentioned. The other we we don't think we have although it’s possible we have.

The first one was at an ACC coach’s meeting early in Coach K’s time at Duke. He brought up the idea of school’s paying players for first-class tickets home and letting them downgrade them for the cash difference.

Another coach said that his program had done that for years. Well I checked, K told him, and it’s illegal.

Secondly, we spoke with someone at Duke earlier this year and asked specifically about people trying to get to Williamson because we knew it was inevitable. We were told that they were aware of efforts people had made to get to him and they were being as diligent as humanly possible - which underscores the point what we were saying...Duke hardly turns a blind eye to rule breaking. In fact it is extraordinary diligent about compliance issues and calls to check on minor things often. No assumptions are made when it comes to the NCAA.

Part of the reason for that is the culture at Duke. It’s based on a military model and not the grind them down model Coach K saw with Bobby Knight as an Army Cadet.

It’s more like an Airborne or Special services esprit de’ corps. It’s an incredibly structured place which uses discipline to create, in the end, liberty. Everyone knows what’s expected and everyone accepts the principles they signed up for and that includes the assistants.

If you’ve paid attention to Duke basketball at some point you’ve heard the phrase “outside” in some capacity - outsiders, outside influences, anyone outside of the lockerroom and so on.

That’s part of the culture we don’t always like frankly but it’s necessary with so many people coming at that particular program in so many different ways. There is no other option.

We’d like to propose another possibility, something we would probably say if we were visiting recruits and particularly guys who are major targets.

We’d say to them look, obviously you can get money now if you want it. You won’t get it from us but we know you can find it if you want it.

But while it might seem like a lot of money right now, as a practical matter, if School A offers you $50,000 consider this. With Duke’s image, constant presence in the media and the program’s historical success, if you wait less than a year, that $50,000 is going to seem like pocket change.

If you come to Duke and succeed, we will put you in a position to be drafted as a high pick who will be able to pick up hundreds of thousands in endorsements, if not millions.

Coach K is as networked in to the NBA as anyone could be due to his turn with USA Basketball. He knows the stars, the agents and the general managers. He understands how branding works better than any coach alive.

Don’t shortchange yourself. Come to Duke and you will make that money many times over and no one can say you did anything wrong.

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