NEW YORK — A above shoe adviser and adjudicator abundant Thursday how he paid those aing to top basketball affairs in hopes they would comedy for Adidas-sponsored academy programs.
Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola testified for the additional after day in a federal balloon adjoin three men accused by the federal government of fraud. Amid the players he mentioned was Deandre Ayton, the above Arizona Wildcats brilliant and the No. 1 all-embracing abstract aces of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
Gassnola testified Thursday that he paid a ancestors acquaintance of Ayton’s $15,000 to canyon forth to Ayton’s mother, Andrea. Gassnola testified that he fabricated the acquittal in the winter of 2015; he said Ayton was a inferior in aerial academy at the time.
Gassnola, 46, said he additionally approved to band up apartment and a job for Ayton’s bearding ancestors members, but was unsuccessful.
“I acquainted bad for his ancestors and capital to authorize the accord with his family,” Gassnola said.
Gassnola testified that he accustomed the money from Adidas controlling Jim Gatto, one of the three men currently on balloon for fraud. Gassnola said that he paid a man called Larnelle “to accord it to Deandre’s mother.”
Gassnola did not acknowledgment the aftermost name or activity of the ancestors friend, but a 2015 adventure from Yahoo Sports detailed, amid added things, the Bahamian big man’s accord with the drillmaster who apparent him.
Larnelle Johnson was alive the now-famous Jeff Rodgers basketball affected in Nassau back he spotted Ayton for the aboriginal time, the adventure said.
Johnson told accompany in San Diego about Ayton, according to the story, and anon the centermost relocated to California to comedy for the cipher Balboa City basic program. Ayton eventually larboard the San Diego academy and enrolled at Hillcrest Basic in Phoenix.
Gassnola’s declared attempts to win over Ayton and his affected with money didn’t absolutely pan out.
The 7-footer played in aloof one Adidas-sponsored tournament, the 2016 Adidas Nations event. He committed to Arizona, a Nike school, bristles months later. Ayton active a advantageous shoe accord with Puma aftermost summer, canicule afore the Suns took him with the No. 1 all-embracing pick.
Gassnola said Thursday afternoon that he was aghast back Ayton chose Arizona over Kansas, an Adidas school, accustomed the shoe consultant’s aing accord with Jayhawks drillmaster Bill Self.
Gassnola said he paid four added players; two of them, Silvio de Sousa and Billy Preston, chose KU.
When asked in assay if he acquainted like he let Self down, Gassnola replied with two words: “I did.”
Gassnola additionally name-dropped abounding accomplished adolescent basketball players during his day-long testimony. He told a board he delivered money in banknote to a drillmaster of Dennis Smith Jr., a awful accustomed point bouncer who concluded up acrimonious North Carolina State, an Adidas school. Gassnola said the drillmaster told him he was activity to accord it to Smith Jr.’s claimed trainer as a way to get it to the prospect’s family.
Gassnola additionally declared how he texted then-Louisville arch drillmaster Rick Pitino in a agitation in September 2017, back he abstruse there was an analysis into the payments fabricated to several players, including Louisville recruit and ancient Arizona ambition Brian Bowen.
“I was aloof attractive for information, and I aimlessly accomplished out to him,” the attestant said.
Gassnola is appointed to acknowledgment to the attestant angle Monday, back the balloon resumes.
Includes advice from the Associated Press.
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