LSU basketball has experienced a resurgence under head coach Will Wade. The Tigers are currently projected as a three-seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, by ESPN‘s Joe Lunardi.
The program has also repeatedly come up in connection to the FBI’s investigation into the sport. Now, Wade has been directly connected to one of the investigation’s central figures, middleman Christian Dawkins.
Dawkins, who has been sentenced to six months in jail for bribing college coaches, allegedly arranged payments for a number of recruits in order to steer them towards specific programs. In November, a list of Dawkins’ potential targets was released, which included current and former college stars.
Among those players was former LSU guard Brandon Sampson, who played for the Tigers from 2015-18, and is now a member of the Chicago Bulls franchise. Per ESPN, Dawkins had a payment plan of $500 per month until December 2017, then $1,000 per month until April 2018 for Sampson, who committed to and played for former LSU coach Johnny Jones, and later Wade after he left VCU to take over the program.
Now, we have insight into Dawkins’ involvement with Wade himself, and hints at potential violations discussed since he took over in 2017.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the FBI wiretapped conversations between Will Wade and Christian Dawkins.
While the conversations intercepted by the FBI aren’t completely clear, they heavily indicate planned payment between Dawkins and potential LSU recruits.
A 2017 phone conversation intercepted by the FBI between LSU coach Will Wade and basketball middleman Christian Dawkins features Wade speaking freely about a “strong-ass offer” he made in the recruitment of a prospect, Yahoo Sports has learned.
On part of the call, Wade expresses frustration that a third party affiliated with the recruitment had yet to accept Wade’s “offer.” Instead, a verbal commitment to LSU was being delayed because Wade theorized he hadn’t given the third party a big “enough piece of the pie in the deal” and instead “tilted” the offer toward the player and his mother.
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”
As noted by Yahoo, LSU has a player, Javonte Smart, who announced his commitment to the Tigers on June 30, the same day as the last of three calls logged between Wade and Dawkins. It is unclear if he is the subject of the call.
The calls also featured discussion of recruit Balsa Koprivica, who is a Florida State signee.
“So you said to me … there was a 2019 kid I wanted to recruit, they can get him to LSU, you would have funded,” Dawkins said to Wade. “Would you want Balsa?”
“Oh, the big kid?” Wade said.
Dawkins confirmed he was talking about the 7-foot-1 Koprivica.
“OK, but there is other [expletive] involved in it,” Wade said. “I have got to shut my door…”
After a brief delay, Wade said, “I can get you what you need, but it’s got to work.”
Wade has previously denied “doing business” with Dawkins. Per Yahoo, LSU declined comment ahead of the publication of this story, but athletic director Joe Alleva has previously said that the school will cooperate with the NCAA if necessary on any issues.
Wade is 42-20 in two years at LSU, with a 14-2 conference record this season. Last season, the Tigers signed the No. 4 recruiting class in the country.