The “pay for play” scandal has dominated the college basketball news cycle since the story broke last week. Since then, Rick Pitino has lost his job as the head coach of Louisville basketball, several top players have decommitted from schools named in the FBI’s investigation, and the world of college basketball has waited to see what else will come out of the woodwork.
As the investigation as gone on, we’ve learned more about the people identified in the FBI’s complaint. Most everyone now knows that “University-6” is the University of Louisville. More recent reports have identified Louisville commit Brian Bowen as “player-10” and Pitino himself as “Coach-2”. Louisville has suspended Bowen indefinitely for his part in the scandal.
Additional players were also identified in the FBI’s complaint and their identities are only just now becoming known. The complaint also names a “player-11”, recently identified as Balsa Koprivica, a top ranked prospect in the class of 2019.
According to Adam Zagoria at zagsblog.com, Koprivica recently visited Louisville with his AAU coach Brad Augustine. Augustine was arrested for his role in funneling money to players.
Koprivica is a 7’1”, 230-pound true center with excellent touch around the basket and good timing as a shot blocker. According to Rob Dauster at NBC Sports, Koprivica transferred from his Nike-affiliated high school to Windermere Prep in Orlando, FL.
Additionally, Koprivica left his Nike AAU team to join Brad Augustine on Adidas’s 1Family AAU squad. The FBI has identified “player-11” as being the intended recipient of $150,000 of Adidas money to ensure “player-11” attended Louisville. Here is the relevant selection from the FBI’s complaint regarding Koprivica:
“Second, DAWKINS and AUGUSTINE agreed to facilitate payments to the family of another high school basketball player (“Player-11”) in exchange for Player-11’s commitment to play at University-6 and ultimately to retain DAWKINS’s services. While these payments were not directly funded by Company-1, they were made to benefit Company-1, which, as noted, sponsors University-6, and with the expectation that Company-1 would provide additional funding to AUGUSTINE in return. AUGUSTINE noted, “all [Coach-2] has to do is pick up the phone and call somebody [and say] these are my guys, they’re taking care of us. Because these payments from DAWKINS to Player-11’s family were both in violation of NCAA rules and illegal, AUGUSTINE suggested that the “easiest way” for DAWKINS to provide money for Player-11 and his family would be to send the money to AUGUSTINE’s “non-profit for the grassroots team,” although AUGUSTINE confirmed that he also would accept cash.
In his zagsblog.com article, Zagoria reports that Augustine told him that Kansas, Texas, Arizona State, LSU, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech had recently made offers to Koprivica, but that Louisville was the most interested in the Serbian big man.
John Calipari and Kentucky had been interested in the top-10 prospect. Assistant coach Tony Barbee was set to meet with earlier in September, but that was canceled. The visit was supposed to come right before the FIBA invesitigation was announced, so I think his proximity to the investigation, whether he actually had taken any money or not, will be enough to have Cal look in other directions for a big man from the class of 2019.
It has been an interesting ride as this scandal has unfolded, but it is comforting to know that the Wildcats have been able to ride through this storm above the waves.