There is a new report out from a Memphis TV station that the relative of a former player at Memphis, Pierre Henderson-Niles, has contacted the NCAA with allegations that Henderson-Niles was paid for playing while he was at Memphis:
Local 24 Sports has learned that a relative of former Memphis tigers basketball player Pierre Niles has been in contact with the NCAA and reported what would be considered a major rules infraction.
The relative told the NCAA that Henderson-Niles played for the U of M under a pay to play arrangement with then coach John Calipari.
Henderson-Niles played for Memphis between 2006 and 2010, and was a role player for the Tigers under Calipari. While Coach Cal was there, he averaged 7.4, 3.8 and 12.6 minutes per game, and his best season saw him average 2.4 points per game and 3.6 rebounds. Comming into high school, Henderson-Niles (then known only by one last name) was a 3-star power forward out of Memphis by Rivals.com.
Henderson-Niles left Memphis in 2010 with eight games left in the regular season. Apparently, he didn't get dismissed for a disciplinary infraction or anything, it just appeared that he was tired of either playing college basketball in general or playing under the Memphis program under Pastner. But sources told CBS Sports that Henderson-Niles' attitude was the problem:
A source told CBSSports.com that Henderson-Niles' often poor attitude is the root of the problem, but the source still described this development as a "mutual decision." The source insisted there was no off-the-court incident that triggered things.
I have no idea if there is any truth to this allegation, but it does seem passing strange to me that Calipari would pay a 3-star player to play in a program where he didn't appear to be a major factor. While Kentucky's foes are naturally crowing about this (and understandably so), at this point it looks more like somebody trying to get their 15 minutes of fame than anything else.
I'm not ruling out the story being true, or that more such allegations won't surface and be more convincing. However, it does seem to strain credulity based purely on the logic of paying a player — generally, if you were going to do that, it would be a star player, not a bench contributor who wasn't a consistent starter until his senior year. Now, if somebody had accused Coach Cal of paying Derek Rose, Tyreke Evans or Rodney Carney, that would seem on its face to be logical in the sense that if a coach were going to take a chance and break the rules, he would do so for a particularly valuable player. Henderson-Niles manifestly does not fit that description.
My instant impression is that this isn't going anywhere. You never know, of course, but I am skeptical not only because of my fandom, but because of the circumstances and the illogical nature of paying this particular player. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this, mostly from foes and Calipari detractors, but this sort of thing seems to crop up every year or two, and my sense is from exploring the situation that it isn't going to amount to more than fodder for haters.
I guess we were due for another allegation that Calipari has done something evil. There has been a notable dearth of them lately.