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Former Arizona assistant claims Sean Miller paid Deandre Ayton $10k per month to attend

Ayton’s tenure at the University of Arizona was filled with drama. After his rookie season with the Suns, one of his old coaches spoke out.

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Arizona has been at the core of the NCAA’s pay for play scandal since Deandre Ayton was in the middle of his lone season in Tucson. Ever since the initial news broke during Pac-12 conference play nearly 18 months ago, there’s been a back-and-forth with authorities for months with this case revolving in large part around Arizona.

During his tenure with the Wildcats, Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks on his way to being PAC-12 Player of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith Award. Ayton’s on-court dominance was overshadowed over the last few months of the season amidst all of this outside noise involving the FBI investigation.

The Suns’ first No. 1 pick in franchise history, along with his entire family, told the FBI last year payments were never discussed with Miller or any of Arizona’s coaching staff.

Now, the latest reports today come from one of Miller’s top former assistants, Book Richardson. On Wednesday, prosecutors played a phone recording to the jury between Richardson and aspiring agent Christian Dawkins. In the call, Richardson was heard talking about how Miller was paying Ayton $10,000 per month to attend.

The back-and-forth discussion between Richardson and Dawkins revolved around how they were trying to recruit Ayton to his sports agency, which was intercepted by authorities via wiretap on June 20, 2017.

Below is the conversation played between Richardson and Dawkins as transcribed by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Jeff Borzello, including Richardson speaking during his testimony:

While talking about Ayton, Richardson told Dawkins, “Sean’s got to get the [expletive] out of the way and let us work.”

”We’ll see how Sean plays it out,” Dawkins said.

”You know what he bought per month?” Richardson asked.

”What he do?” Dawkins asked.

”I told you -- 10,” Richardson replied.

”He’s putting up some real money for them [expletive],” Dawkins responded. “He told me he’s getting killed.”

”But that’s his fault,” Richardson said.

During the same call, Richardson and Dawkins discussed how much Richardson would be paid each month by Dawkins’ new sports management agency.

”You already know Sean is taking care of Rawle (Alkins) and them,” Dawkins said.

Later on Wednesday, Dawkins was called to testify and said that he didn’t see anything wrong with paying college athletes.

”They are the only kids in college who can’t get paid legally,” Dawkins said. “There is a need for them to get paid. ... I don’t think anything that’s been discussed in either case is a crime.”

Dawkins testified that he believed his company was already getting Alkins as a client, and that Ayton was already being paid through other parties.

Deandre Ayton is going to get way more than 5,000,” Dawkins said. “That’s not even in the ballpark of what he’s going to get.”

Not only was Ayton involved in this situation more so than others, but he wasn’t the only Suns player initially listed last year in the pay-for-play situations. Josh Jackson, who attended the University of Kansas during his one-and-done campaign, reportedly received $2,700 from agent Andy Miller but his mother, Apples Jones, vehemently denied the claim upon it’s release.

“Not true,” Jones told the Lawrence Journal-World last February. “I don’t even know why I was mentioned. I don’t know why my name was brought up. Not true at all.”

As you can tell, the secrecy behind college athletics seems to be going up in smoke. There may be changes in the near future, but LSU head coach Will Wade was already let go for his involvement. Arizona continues to stand by Miller even while the temperature continues to rise.

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