Mixed AAU message: McCray to UCLA, UGA players in trouble

Jarvis Jones when he was at Carver-Columbus and one of our Super 11. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Jarvis Jones, then at Carver-Columbus, was one of our Super 11. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Who says you can’t get an education while school’s out of session? This summer, we in Georgia are seeing both the power and the peril of AAU basketball.

The power: UCLA, the school of Wooden and Abdul-Jabbar and Walton and 11 NCAA titles, hired Korey McCray away from the Atlanta Celtics to become an assistant coach. Why? Because UCLA believes McCray can be an effective recruiter.

The peril: The collegiate eligibility of two Georgia players — Jarvis Jones, projected as a starting linebacker, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the biggest Bulldog hoops recruit in nearly two decades — has been jeopardized by their ties to the Georgia Blazers, an AAU team based in Columbus.

Speaking in April, Korey McCray said: “AAU guys get such a bad rap.” And it’s true that AAU ball has come to be seen as too powerful. AAU teams can and do hammer out their own shoe deals: The Atlanta Celtics are sponsored by adidas, the Georgia Blazers by Nike. AAU teams operate outside the bounds of high school associations, existing in the shadowy (but lucrative) realm of summer basketball.

Nearly every prospect of any worth plays AAU ball. (When he was a high schooler in Little Rock, Ark., Joe Johnson commuted to Atlanta to play for the Celtics.) College coaches often bemoan, usually off the record, the sway AAU teams have come to hold over recruits, but no big-time program can afford to ignore the AAU. If a school wants to land top-shelf talent, it must take a dip in the pool of summer ball. Ergo, McCray to UCLA.

McCray saw the UCLA job not just as a victory for himself but for the AAU Way. “I would embrace it [the label of being the guy from an AAU club],” he said. “I’ve been in basketball my whole life. I have my Masters in  adult education. I love summer basketball … If that’s how they’re going to label me, I hope to represent AAU basketball very well.”

Korey McCray, Bruin staffer. (UCLA photo)

Korey McCray, Bruin staffer. (UCLA photo)

But now, through the reporting of Andy Bitter of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, we see the flip side. Writes Bitter:

Police records show that an unauthorized bank account controlled by [former Columbus Parks and Recreation director Tony] Adams and [assistant Herman] Porter was used to pay for flights to and from Los Angeles for Jarvis Jones, a two-sport star at Carver High School who played football for one season at the University of Southern California, and for the cell phone bill of the mother of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a five-star shooting guard from Greenville High School.

Georgia has referred the matter to the NCAA. The usual penalty for a player found to have received an improper benefit is to make monetary restitution and to a serve a suspension. Georgia fans know the drill all too well: Last season receiver A.J. Green had to sit out the first four games after it was found he sold his Independence Bowl jersey.

Possible football ramification: The Bulldogs, as you’ve heard, face a put-up-or-shut-up season that commences with games against Boise State and South Carolina. If Jones couldn’t play, he’d be missed.

Possible basketball ramification: Georgia lost its two best players, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, a year early to the NBA draft. The belief around the team is that the freshman Caldwell-Pope might have to lead the 2011-2012 team in scoring. If he has to sit out, he’ll be hugely missed.

Yes, it’s unfair to use one case as a smear against all AAU programs: The Atlanta Celtics are not the Georgia Blazers. But the image of AAU basketball has taken on a fairly negative connotation, and any bit of bad news becomes just another brick in the wall.

In Westwood, Korey McCray has a chance to strike a blow for himself and for AAU coaches everywhere. The reports from Columbus, alas, give us some indication of the perception he’ll be fighting.

By Mark Bradley

77 comments Add your comment

headley lamar

June 30th, 2011
11:14 am

headley lamar

June 30th, 2011
11:15 am

And having watched Wilson complete 28 of 41 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia Tech last fall, I can tell you he’s pretty darn good.

My grandmother could do that against Tech and she is almost 80.

Mark Bradley

June 30th, 2011
11:16 am

Kudos, headley.

Hankie Aron

June 30th, 2011
11:24 am

headley, comments like that are jovial and junior varsity

Hankie Aron

June 30th, 2011
11:25 am

I will take the silver lamp for 2nd place though for my trouble. Just missed a kudos bar


June 30th, 2011
11:26 am

just wish kids shot free throws better…..doubt headley could complete 1 pass against any D1 D……


June 30th, 2011
11:27 am

Jordan Adams is a donut shy of earning a Jenny Craig endorsement. I wouldn’t say Coach AAU getting him to a dead program is much of a land. Shaq Goodwin isn’t going to UCLA.

where do we go from here?

June 30th, 2011
11:27 am

It will be just fine we will get same deal as AUBURN HA HA HA


June 30th, 2011
11:32 am

Not sure why Jones would be in trouble with the NCAA. When he received money or plane fare – He was in college, playing a different sport – Wouldn’t the loans or gifts just be coming from an friend?? And how would he know what kind or who’s bank account it came from?? I think his matter is a police matter, not an NCAA matter at all.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

June 30th, 2011
11:33 am

Just use the Ohio State case if they try and suspend Jones and blow the NCAA out of the water. Who knew the fallout could kick in this fast?


June 30th, 2011
11:33 am

Jarvis Jones’ fingernails creep me out.


June 30th, 2011
11:35 am

If Georgia played in the Big Ten, we’d get to pick and choose which games Jarvis will miss. New Mexico State and Coastal Carolina come to mind…


June 30th, 2011
11:36 am

Yet another THuga player in trouble with the NCAA again. Mmm mmm mmmm mmmmm….

My kid...

June 30th, 2011
11:38 am

…played AAU ball on one of those teams “other than the Celtics and Blazers” and all of their sponsorships. Heck, all the other teams’ players were in awe when those guys (at age U12, U14, U16 and U18) showed up on Friday’s with all their Nike or adidas sponored warm-ups and shoes and bags, etc. Heck, even as a parent I was awestruck the first time I saw them arrive – and I was admittedly a little envious that my kid was not good enough to play on that team.

And, those guys can really play – but the question is, Is it really fair to those players? ‘Cause not all of them make it to the college “big leagues”, and their mystique is gone once they have to learn that “Celtic mania” is not good for anything other than those 2-4 years that they can play summer ball – it does not help them at school, it does not get them into college (heck, in today’s world, ANYBODY can get some money to play college hoops SOMEWHERE). And, most of all, they have to learn the hard way that they really are not that special – nor are their coaches, even if they do make it to UCLA as a “recruiter”‘, though not necessarily as a COACH…

The Spirit of UGA VII

June 30th, 2011
11:46 am

Looks like we’re a cinch to win the Fulmer Cup again this year. Life—up here and down there—is good! Go Dawgs!

Too Tough 44

June 30th, 2011
11:48 am

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GT Trumpet

June 30th, 2011
12:01 pm

ugag fans are very well accustomed to their players cheating. It’s always a given every off season that ugag will post some NCAA violation.


June 30th, 2011
12:02 pm

Situation is way overblown, lets hear what the NCAA does if they do anything. By the way, the school can’t get in trouble because neither player was with UGA when these events happened. The players could miss playing time but only time will tell.

Dontavius Supremo

June 30th, 2011
12:03 pm

Unfortunately AAU is not skills based, but only plays game after game after game. A notable graduate of AAU summer ball is Labron James. Blessed with incredible basketball talent, but sorely lacking in basketball skills.

headley lamar

June 30th, 2011
12:04 pm

Why cant Jarvis just use the Cam defense and say he didn’t know about any money?

His mother could go on record saying it was her not Jarvis. Worked for Auburn.

Frank Smith

June 30th, 2011
12:11 pm

When is the Georgia High School Association going to step up and act as the governing body of HS athletics in Georgia? There is no oversight at all in this field now. When you see some athletes changing schools every year there is blatant recruiting going on. The GHSA has completely abdicated their responsibility in this area and also where the AAU teams are concerned. The AAU teams are nothing more than All-Star teams and if you ever look at an All-Star basketball game you will not see any defense played, not a surprise that when these kids get to college they are not grounded in the fundamentals of basketball, particularly on defense. The GHSA could say that for every game played outside the high school regular season with a team not in the GHSA that player will not be eligible for the same number of games the following season with his high school team. A lot of the trouble with the recruiting is tied to the associations these players make playing AAU ball.

Jimmy Crack

June 30th, 2011
12:11 pm

The word ineligible comes to mind. The NCAA has not been doing much forgiving lately. Very depressing. With this and the offensive line woes, 1-1 seems fairly optimistic if not a stretch.


June 30th, 2011
12:24 pm

I don’t see how the NCAA can penalize a school by taking away the services of one of its recruits when the school did nothing wrong. But since it’s Georgia, I’m sure the NCAA will find a way. Wonder what the chances of this being overlooked ala Auburn style or if penalized, whether we can pick the games ala Ohio State? I say the slow and random way in which the NCAA enforces its myriad rules is just as tyrannical as the corruption it tries to prevent.


June 30th, 2011
12:27 pm

Off the subject, but in response to the pathetic Nerd blogger: HMMMMM, another Jackette B-baller in trouble with the law. Mmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmmm.


June 30th, 2011
12:30 pm

Hey dumbo Spirit:

Zero arrests this off season and you think the Dawgs are shoo-ins for the Fulmer Cup? What do you base this on? Nerd B-ballers are the thugs in this state!


June 30th, 2011
12:33 pm

All you holier than thou thUGA fans. What do you have to say now. AJ Greene, Jarvis Jones, Caldwell-Pope. Bunch of hypocrites.


June 30th, 2011
12:37 pm

Mc Cray is a hired gun…nothing more. He’ll be there a couple of years, no more.


June 30th, 2011
12:45 pm

Georgia hired Jim Tressel to consult on these matters. When he arrived he asked “Where are we at with this thing?” MacGarity replied that he had just reported the matters to the NCAA. Tressel asked him what that meant. When it was explained to him he just laughed and said that he couldn’t help us but if we wanted to cover something up give him a call.

Paul in RDU

June 30th, 2011
12:50 pm

Mark – Nice, well-balanced article. The root of the problem, as always, is money. As long as Nike and adidas can sell shoes using famous athletes as endorsers (MJ, LeBron, etc) there is going to be bundles of money going to AAU teams. They want to influence “the next LeBron” to sign for them. The Adams and the Porters of the world are just pulling a Willie Horton.


June 30th, 2011
12:52 pm

This is a bit confusing … for Jarvis, this happened when he played AAU and ultimately signed with USC, right? Why would UGA, where he recently transferred, hold liability? Is it that the violation follows the player and when he’s caught, he must then pay penalty? Just seems weird that UGA would have any exposure on this one.


June 30th, 2011
12:54 pm

If they were playing baseball in the minor leagues, this is not an issue. NCAA very inconsistent with rules and enforcement.


June 30th, 2011
12:55 pm

Hey “headley lamar,” Russell Wilson was impressive the last 3 years– and not all the teams he faced were a sorry as Georgia Tech. That said, Tom O’Brien is a moron for letting him get away.


June 30th, 2011
12:59 pm

I think everyone is making way too much of this. This kid didn’t do anything to hurt anyone and it wasn’t near as bad as the OSU deal. For someone on here to call a kid a thug when you don’t even know him, you need to take a good look at yourself. Also please tell me how the NCAA can punish the players or the program for something that happened off their watch in high school?


June 30th, 2011
1:02 pm

Georgia’s clout with the NCAA has been gone since Vince left. He was well thought of and served as Chairman of several committees over the years. With Damon at the helm the last few years, we were thrown in the “pile’

the real Kirby Smart

June 30th, 2011
1:06 pm

Figures. Jones will be suspended for the first 2, while SCAM & thr Rev. Newton laugh all the way to the bank.Bulls**t, but we need a coach(a la Saban) who knows “how to play the game”


June 30th, 2011
1:07 pm

Headley; I’ve seen your grandma play; shis is no Wilson.

the real Kirby Smart

June 30th, 2011
1:08 pm

@ JB. We(and Okla.) sued the NCAA while Dooley was AD and HC. Doubt the NCAA boys have forgotten that. UGA has never gotten a break after that either.

GT BBall

June 30th, 2011
1:20 pm

You mean the NCAA remembers when UGA used the devlopmental studies program to keep athletes eligible for sports that couldn’t read or write. UGA admitted to cheating for the 12 year period, but refused to frofeit the games won with illegal players. Once a cheater, always a cheater. SEC = Sure Everybody Cheats.


June 30th, 2011
1:23 pm

Who cares? All college bsketball has become is a semi-pro stepping stone to the pros for a select few players.I have never understood why different sports have different rules to turn professional.

the real Kirby Smart

June 30th, 2011
1:24 pm

Possibly GT. The NCAA may not even know that Tech is still a member insitution, since they are not relevant in any of the revenue generating sports. Oh I’m sorry, when you have to beg your season ticket holders to but more tickets so it’s not a home game for your rival, maybe football is revenue generating either.


June 30th, 2011
1:27 pm

Beware of the NCAA, they are deserving of being charged with LOIC. Should there ever be an attempt to demonstrate the meaning of the somewhat
hackneyed phrase, “Pandora’s Box”, citing what is going on with the NCAA and
college football, especially as it relates to the UNC football program, could
best do the job. Surely there are some sane minds at our universities who
cannot see the utter “lack of control” and chaosthat surrounds the NCAA and
investigative activity. The NCAA, in getting involved in regulating the
monitoring of an athlete’s participation in social media interaction, their
“comings and goings”, and in areas which should be left up to the university to
police (honor code violations, parking infractions and adjudication, tutoring
programs, etc.), is giving precedent to a situation that would make
unjustifiable government involvement in the lives of our citizenry look like
mere child’s play.

In the case of UNC, when it became apparent to the NCAA that several UNC
were in violation of NCAA rules, those players and other “individuals” who were
deemed to be in violation should have been punished. (I’m not sure that the
severity of the punishment in the case of Austin, Little and Quinn, wherein
accepted improper benefits which in no way was condoned by the university and
about which it was unaware, and which only served to damage the football
program, not give it an advantage, was equal to the “crime” in this case. )
a UNC assistant coach violated NCAA rules unbeknownst to the Head Coach, then
said coach should be punished appropriately as well. Player agents who are
guilty in such matters should be severly dealt with by the NCAA in whatever
manner that would serve as a strong deterrent to such improper activity. The
degree to which UNC was investigated was totally unnecessary, wasteful, and
ill-advised. To allow the NCAA to continue on this path will inevitably lead
truly “opening Pandora’s Box” and creating a mess that will have a damning
effect on college football and its fans, to include their pocketbooks. College
presidents need to wake up before it is too late. While I commend UNC
Chancellor Thorp’s willingness to accept blame where it is appropriate, I
strongly encourage him to take a leadership role in reigning in the NCAA and
curbing its undesirable activities. In addition, fans who support
the NCAA’s activities out of hate for a rival program need to be more
responsible as well. And one more thing, the media is far from being without
sin in this matter as demonstrated by the fact that they are more keen on
participating in a “witch hunt” than a country squire is in participating in a
fox hunt.


June 30th, 2011
1:30 pm

Spurrier has the right idea, disassociate our institutes of higher learning from the cesspool that is major college athletics, pay the thugs to perform for the masses, and free up classroom space for qualified deserving students. Issues like this go away, and Thuga can carry on without further embarrassing our flagship university.


June 30th, 2011
1:32 pm

Did a tech fan accuse UGA of cheating? I bet bagmen of the AAU take continuing ed classes at TECH…HAHAHAHHA

GT BBall

June 30th, 2011
1:32 pm

The NCAA invited us to the Basketball tourney in 2010 and has invited us to 14 straight NCAA approved football bowl games.

GT BBall

June 30th, 2011
1:35 pm

I didn’t accuse UGA of cheating. I said UGA is a cheater, a proven cheater. There really is a difference.


June 30th, 2011
1:39 pm

If you’re going to cut’n'paste, at least clean up the formatting. TIA.


June 30th, 2011
1:44 pm

I did not accuse tek of cheating. They uses ineligible players and did not forfiet the games. Not to mention O’Leary’s short term loan program.


June 30th, 2011
1:46 pm

Assuming the reports are true regarding Jarvis Jones, how will this affect Southern Cal and Lane Kiffin? The alleged violations occurred while Jones played for USC and USC is already in hot water with the NCAA. Could this lead to a death penalty for USC?


June 30th, 2011
2:04 pm

Wow, reporting, cool.