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One Year Later: How Different Would College Basketball Look if the FBI Probe Never Happened?

While it might seem hard to believe, today is the one-year anniversary of the day that we learned about the FBI’s probe into college basketball. That’s right, 366 days ago we all went to bed having no idea that the next day when we woke up, the sport we all love would be shaken to its core.

And while some would argue that “not much has changed” since the FBI probe hit college basketball, the reality is, that it has. A Hall of Fame head coach is out, several assistants are looking at potential jail time and the recruitments of most of last year’s top high school players were shaken up. Believe me, college basketball would look a lot different if the FBI probe had never happened.

How different would it look? Well, I decided to dig in and tell you everything that has changed in the sport since that morning.

Here is how different college basketball would be if the FBI probe had never happened.

If the FBI probe had never happened…

Rick Pitino would still be the head coach at Louisville, rather than a published author (as my colleague Tyler Thompson alluded to, “Pitweetos” also wouldn’t be a thing).

Chris Mack would still be the head coach at Xavier.

Travis Steele would still be a relatively anonymous assistant at Xavier, rather than head coach the school.

David Padgett would still be a relatively anonymous assistant at Louisville, rather than an unemployed former head coach.

Sean Miller would have never been publicly branded a cheater, after a false ESPN report inaccurately stated that he agreed on an FBI wiretap to pay DeAndre Ayton $100,000. DeAndre Ayton would still have been the No. 1 pick. Because he’s awesome.

Assistant coaches Book Richardson (Arizona), Tony Bland (USC), Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State), Chuck Person (Auburn), Kenny Johnson (Louisville) and Jordan Fair (Louisville) would all still have jobs. Johnson almost certainly wouldn’t be an assistant at LaSalle right now.

The possibility exists that Bland would be a college head coach. He interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs the year before he was caught up in the FBI probe.

If Bland stayed at USC, the Trojans wouldn’t have the No. 1 recruiting class in 2019. Assistant Eric Mobley was hired to replace Bland, and Mobley’s son Isaiah (a Top 20 recruit) became the lynchpin for a class that is currently No. 1 in the country.

Had Bland not gotten caught on wiretap, USC’s DeAnthony Melton would have never been suspended last season. The Trojans almost certainly would be coming off an NCAA Tournament berth, and Melton very well could have ended up as a first round NBA Draft pick.

Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy – who were both suspended at Auburn last year for accepting extra benefits – might actually not be at Auburn right, had they played last season. Wiley specifically has an NBA future, and had he been eligible last season, there’s a chance he would have declared for the NBA Draft. Instead, they’re both back, and Auburn is a preseason Top 10 team.

Louisville almost certainly would be coming off an NCAA Tournament berth – and possibly a deep tournament run as well.

Brian Bowen would probably be ready to start his sophomore year at Louisville right now, instead of trying to make it in a pro league in Australia.

Silvio de Souza, who is beginning his sophomore year at Kansas, wouldn’t be under a cloud of uncertainty headed into this current season. De Souza is the recruit whose guardian is accused of accepting $20,000 to steer him from Maryland to Kansas instead.

NC State wouldn’t be under its own cloud of uncertainty, as everyone tries to piece together exactly what happened during the disastrous Mark Gottfried regime. To be clear, none of the FBI allegations have to do with the current coaching staff led by Kevin Keatts.

Dozens of other players (including Kevin Knox, Wendell Carter etc.) would have never been looped into this whole mess (before eventually being cleared of wrongdoing), after a document dump to Yahoo Sports in February.

Romeo Langford, long considered to be a Louisville lean pre-probe, would likely be beginning his freshman season at Louisville right now, rather than as the most decorated recruit at Indiana in years.

Nassir Little, whose recruitment was seemingly down to Arizona and Miami, would likely be beginning his career right now in either Tucson or Miami, rather than as the most decorated recruit at North Carolina in years.

Bol Bol, long considered an Arizona lean, would probably be beginning his freshman year right now in Tucson rather than at Oregon.

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E.J. Montgomery, who was committed to Auburn, would be beginning his freshman on the Plains right now, instead of at Kentucky.

Jahvon Quinerly, who was named in the FBI probe as accepting money from Arizona, would be beginning his freshman year in Tucson right now. Instead, he is enrolled at Villanova where he could be a starter for Jay Wright’s club this season.

Shareef O’Neal, who had been committed to Arizona, would be beginning his freshman year in Tucson right now rather than UCLA.

This is a fun one, not many know about: Jordan Brown, the first McDonald’s All-American to sign at Nevada in decades, would probably be beginning his freshman year at UCLA right now. He was long considered a UCLA lean, however when O’Neal decommitted from Arizona, the Bruins offered him the same scholarship that was ear-marked for Brown. O’Neal accepted, UCLA was out of scholarships, and Brown ended up at Nevada instead.

Taeshon Cherry, a Top 40 recruit who was committed to USC would be starting his career with the Trojans right now. Instead, he’s enrolled Arizona State.

Courtney Ramey, a Top 50 recruit who was committed to Louisville, would be beginning his career with the Cardinals right now. Instead, he’s enrolled at Texas.

Though unlikely, the possibility exists that Anfernee Simons – a Louisville commit – would be in college right now, instead of trying to make it in the NBA. Because he was 19, Simons was draft eligible, but it wasn’t until he decommitted from Louisville, that he seriously started looking at the pros as a legitimate option.

And finally, the NCAA would have never put together a committee (spearheaded by Condoleezza Rice) to “fix” college basketball.

There would be no new rules in place allowing players to hire agents while in college or return to college if they go undrafted.

The expanded partnership between the NBA, NCAA and Team USA Basketball wouldn’t exist and there likely wouldn’t be as big of a push publicly to alter the one-and-done rule.

So with all that said, are we sure that “not all that much has changed in college basketball” over the last year?

Article written by Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook or e-mail at [email protected] He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

11 Comments for One Year Later: How Different Would College Basketball Look if the FBI Probe Never Happened?



  1. Shawn Kemp
    1:29 pm September 26, 2018 Permalink

    So what you’re saying is that we should recast The Butterfly Effect with Pitino as Ashton Kutcher?

    Into it.

    @DallonAdams



  2. 4everUKblue
    2:35 pm September 26, 2018 Permalink

    Surprised combat/Slater hasn’t shown up here yet.



    • CombatMedic_98
      8:25 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

      Hey man thanks for mentioning me but My name is not Slater you hater



    • 4everUKblue
      9:19 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

      You’re not fooling anybody Slater, it’s so obviously you. I’m sure it will become even more evident when basketball season rolls around because you won’t be able to hide your Cal hate.



  3. Luether
    12:49 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

    Another great post, Aaron…



  4. Duuuuuude
    6:19 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

    Terrific post Aaron. What a ripple effect….. probably affecting even more than you pointed out.



  5. ukisgr8
    7:12 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

    It will effect us. We just not gotten the hammer yet. I’m doubting the ncaa will ignore 2 players getting money. It happened at a lot of schools though so will be interesting. It would make for a small and bad tourney if all the teams get a post season ban



    • runningunnin.454
      8:52 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

      So, you’re saying Harvard vs Princeton in the NCAA championship game?



    • ukisgr8
      9:45 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

      Lol it will be interesting given that so many blue bloods are involved in it. It looks like only in 2 or 3 cases had coaches actually involved in it though so they hopefully just stick the punishment with them only



  6. ClutchCargo
    8:52 am September 27, 2018 Permalink

    Would Pitno still be sniffing his fingers?