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Feds Drop Charges Against Aau Basketball Program Director In Adidas Scandal Case

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The federal government has dropped criminal charges against Jonathan Augustine, a former AAU basketball director from Florida, who was one of 10 men arrested in September for allegedly conspiring to funnel money from Adidas to recruits’ families.

Augustine, the former president of The League Initiative and director of the 1 Family AAU in Orlando, Florida, was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering after the FBI’s two-year investigation into bribes and other corruption in men’s college basketball.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked a federal judge to dismiss charges against Augustine on Friday, and a spokesman for the U.S. District Court of Southern New York confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday that the case against Augustine is closed.

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The Wall Street Journal first reported that the federal government had requested to dismiss the charges against Augustine.

The FBI’s clandestine investigation led to the arrests of four assistant coaches: Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson, Auburn’s Chuck Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans and USC’s Tony Bland.

The FBI also alleged that Adidas executives Jim Gatto and Merl Code, sports agent Christian Dawkins and financial planner Munish Sood conspired with others to steer high-profile recruits to Adidas-sponsored schools, including Louisville and Miami. In return, the coaches would ensure that the players signed with Adidas, Dawkins and Sood when they turned pro.

The investigation led to the firings of Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. Pitino and Jurich have denied knowing about the scheme to funnel money to players’ families.

Augustine and Sood weren’t indicted on the federal charges, and a person familiar with the case told ESPN that it’s believed that Augustine and Sood are cooperating with federal authorities.

The FBI alleged that Augustine met with Gatto, Code, Dawkins and an unnamed Louisville assistant coach at a Las Vegas hotel room on July 27. Financial planner Marty Blazer, who was working with the federal government, and an undercover FBI agent were also in the meeting, which the FBI recorded with hidden video cameras.

During the meeting, the federal complaint alleges, Dawkins laid out plans to funnel money to the family of an unnamed Louisville recruit, who was scheduled to graduate from high school in 2019. “The mom is like, ‘We need our f—ing money,'” Dawkins said. “So we got to be able to fund the situation. … We’re all working together to get this kid to [Louisville]. Obviously, in turn, the kid will come back to us.”

When Dawkins mentioned they’d have to be careful because the Cardinals were already on NCAA probation, the Louisville assistant agreed. “We gotta be very low-key,” he said.

The men agreed to funnel the money through Augustine’s program, and he promised them that “all my kids will be [Adidas] kids.” The undercover agent then handed Augustine an envelope containing $12,700 in cash, according to the FBI, and Dawkins told him that it would cover payments to the second player’s family for July and August.

The FBI alleged the men also conspired to funnel about $150,000 to an unidentified player who was being recruited by Miami. They planned to follow a scheme similar to the one used with the Louisville recruits to keep the player from signing with a school sponsored by a rival apparel company, which they said had offered the player $150,000, according to the complaint.

Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga has denied knowledge of the scheme.

In a separate motion filed on Friday, attorneys representing Code, Dawkins and Gatto asked a federal judge to exclude certain wiretap recordings and suppress evidence from the searches of the men’s cellphones.

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Wooden Watch Can Someone Catch Trae Young

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To this point, there is no question as to who has been the most impressive player during the college basketball season: Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young.

The nation’s leader in both scoring (29.1 points per game) and assists (9.3), Young is the clear favorite for the Wooden Award. Two weeks ago, it seemed like he was a virtual lock and the final two months of the season would serve as somewhat of a send-off party before his inevitable leap to the NBA.

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But even then, after Young scored 44 points in a 98-96 win against Baylor on Jan. 30, there were signs that Oklahoma might not be much of a factor come March. The Sooners lost three of four going into that win after peaking at No. 9 in the AP poll and have since lost four straight to fall into a fifth-place tie with Baylor in the Big 12 at 6-7.

The Sooners’ poor run isn’t in spite of brilliance from Young, either. He’s still scoring at a high clip, but in the four-game skid he has made just 7 of 41 3-point attempts and committed 23 turnovers.

In the past 20 years, only one Wooden Award winner has come from a team with double-digit losses — Texas was 25-10 when Kevin Durant won it in 2007. In that same span, every winner’s team won at least one game in the NCAA tournament and all but two advanced past the tournament’s opening weekend.

In ESPN’s latest Bracketology, which came out before Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech on Tuesday, the Sooners were listed as a No. 5 seed, but it’s not inconceivable for the Sooners not to make the tournament. Say they lose three of their remaining regular-season games and bow out in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. At 18-13, they would be firmly on the bubble and if they get left out, Young’s shot at winning the Wooden would be a break from history.

So, if the Sooners lose him out of contention, who would have a real chance at winning?

Right now, that’s anybody’s guess, but here are a few possibilities — and it will likely be decided more by what happens over the rest of the season.

The draft darlings

Deandre Ayton, Arizona: The Wildcats haven’t quite met expectations, but they’re still 20-6, in first place in the Pac-12 and Ayton has been a dominant force. At 7-foot-1, he’s a strong candidate to be drafted No. 1 overall in the upcoming NBA draft and if he has a memorable March, he could play his way into contention. He’s averaging 19.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

Marvin Bagley III, Duke: A knee injury has kept him out of the Blue Devils’ past two games, but when he’s on the court it’s easy to see why Bagley believed he didn’t need another season of high school basketball. In fact, there’s a case to be made that he was ready to play in the NBA this season. Like Ayton, and the rest of these candidates, there’s still plenty of time for him to leave his mark on the season.

The best players on good teams

Miles Bridges, Michigan State: A favorite for the award when the season began, Bridges leads the second-ranked Spartans in scoring (17.3) and knocked down a key shot late to beat then-No. 3 Purdue last week. With another run to the Final Four, Bridges could be deserving.

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier: The Musketeers have won nine in a row, including a win against Seton Hall on Wednesday in which Bluiett went for a season-high 37 points. He has a chance Saturday against Villanova to make a statement in a game that could give Xavier a 2?-game lead in the Big East standings.

Stock up

Keenan Evans, Texas Tech Evans’ rise was highlighted in last week’s Wooden Watch and took another significant step forward after outplaying Young in Tech’s 88-78 win on Tuesday. Evans scored 26 points, aided by shooting 4-of-7 on 3s, and has the Red Raiders all alone in first place in the Big 12.

Stock down

Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s Largely because of Landale, the Gaels climbed to their highest ranking in program history — No. 11 in the AP poll — but against Gonzaga at home, with a chance to move into the top 10, he was ineffective. Landale scored just four points — his lowest total in the past two seasons — as Saint Mary’s lost 78-65 on Saturday. He’ll have a chance to bounce back Thursday against San Francisco, which he scored 26 points against the first time they played.

Others to watch: Mohamed Bamba, Texas; Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State; Mikal Bridges, Villanova; Jalen Brunson, Villanova; Carsen Edwards, Purdue; Vincent Edwards, Purdue; Marcus Foster, Creighton; Kansas; Luke Maye, North Carolina; Collin Sexton, Alabama; Allonzo Trier, Arizona.

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No 14 Arizonas Trier Suspended For Trace Amount Of Ped

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The NCAA has declared No. 14 Arizona’s Allonzo Trier ineligible for the reappearance of the banned substance that led to a 19-game suspension last season.

The school said the NCAA notified the Wildcats on Thursday that the junior guard had a trace amount of the substance from a drug test late last month. Arizona did not specify the drug, saying only it was a banned substance.

Arizona says the amount detected was minuscule by scientific standards and appeared to be a remnant of the performance-enhancing drug Trier unknowingly ingested last season. The NCAA agreed, the school said.

Arizona is appealing the decision and hoping Trier will regain his eligibility soon.

Trier sat out the first 19 games in 2016-17 after testing positive for the drug, which he said came from a well-intentioned person not affiliated with the university following an injury.

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For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP—Top25

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Alan Pardew Begs West Brom Fans To Forgive ‘cab Four’ Jonny Evans, Jake Livermore, Gareth Barry And Boaz Myhill

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ALAN PARDEW begged West Brom’s furious fans to follow his lead and find it in their hearts  to forgive his Barcelona  bad boys.

Shamed Jonny Evans, Jake Livermore, Gareth Barry and Boaz Myhill have been read the riot act and copped a combined club fine believed to be close to £500,000 for their part in Taxi-gate.

AFP Alan Pardew is calling on West Brom fans to forgive ‘Cab Four’

Jake Livermore, Gareth Barry, Johnny Evans and Boaz Myhill were in town for a match

But Baggies boss Pardew is set to hand captain chaos  Evans his armband back for the vital home clash with Huddersfield, one week after stripping him of the honour.

Pards said: “This weekend he needs to prove to me, the fans and the club that he’s the right man to lead us.

“Jonny  will be captain subject to him coming through fitness-wise over the next couple of days.

“Of course I’m angry about the situation. But it’s tempered with the reality that this is a results business and we need to get results.

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“That incident magnified our situation and the only way we can get ourselves out of the spotlight is to win games — and this is a massive one against Huddersfield.

“I sense with our fans, they’re disappointed as I am. But they want the team to win and I don’t expect that stadium to be anything but positive when we walk out.

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“We need to repay that faith and win for the fans, for ourselves, for our own pride.”

Albion’s ‘Cab Four’ allegedly nicked a taxi during a club trip to Barca.

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