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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas athletic officials are reviewing allegations that the former AAU basketball coach of Ben McLemore received cash payments aimed at steering the star freshman to a sports agent. AAU coach Darius Cobb told USA Today he received $10,000 in two payments from Rodney Blackstock, the founder and CEO of Hooplife Academy in Greensboro, N.C.
Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger issued a statement Saturday saying that the university had received an inquiry about the relationship between the McLemore family and Blackstock. The information was being reviewed and officials would “process it” with the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference if necessary.
“We are not in a position to comment further at this time,” Zenger said. A spokesman with the university declined further comment on Monday.
A telephone message left with an NCAA spokesman in Indianapolis seeking comment Monday was not returned.
McLemore, a second-team All-American, is expected to be an NBA lottery pick in June after breaking the Jayhawks’ freshman scoring record held by Danny Manning. McLemore averaged nearly 16 points for a team that went 31-6 and won a share of its ninth straight Big 12 championship, and he announced last month that he was leaving Kansas after one season.
In a release issued by Cobb through Coburn Enterprise, LLC in St. Louis, Cobb said Blackstock gave him money to give to the family in an effort to steer McLemore to him as a client. He said in addition to the cash, he also received expenses for hotels and travel to Los Angeles. Cobb says that he tried to act in the best interest of McLemore and his family by using Blackstock as a middleman with agents and financial advisers.
The statement issued Monday by Cobb said Kansas and coach Bill Self “had no knowledge or involvement dealing with this issue.”
According to the USA Today article, Blackstock attended three Kansas basketball games using tickets left in his name by McLemore. In addition, Cobb and Richard Boyd, a cousin of McLemore’s, traveled to Los Angeles to meet with Blackstock and others about the player’s future.
Cobb, 41, said he intended to act as a shield for the McLemore family with agents and “keep him pure.” Cobb said he had known McLemore since the sixth grade in St. Louis and had helped the family by purchasing clothing and food.