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Sean Miller’s former Arizona players come to his defense amid FBI scandal

Arizona coach Sean Miller watches his team play Southern California during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Tucson, Ariz. (Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

LISTEN: Zach Clark, ESPN Tucson radio host

As Arizona head coach Sean Miller’s name has reached the forefront of the college basketball recruiting scandal, former players have jumped to his defense.

On Feb. 23, it was reported that Miller was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 for Arizona to earn a commitment from Deandre Ayton.

While the reactions of some stand against Miller, those who played for Miller have advocated for their former coach.

Aaron Gordon – forward (2013-14)

The only one-and-done on this list, Gordon played on the first of Sean Miller’s back-to-back Elite Eight teams. He was selected fourth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic.

“Sean Miller was nothing but great for me and especially the guys that were on that team: T.J. [McConnell], myself, Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson],” Gordon told the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins. “He was nothing but great — just upstanding, just a role model and a great coach, a great person.”

Kyle Fogg – guard (2008-12)

Fogg was not recruited by Sean Miller. He began his career in Arizona while Miller finished his last year at Xavier.

As a junior, Fogg was pivotal to Miller reaching his first Elite Eight with Arizona.

I could write a book filled with all of the valuable life lessons coach Sean Miller taught me throughout my time at Arizona. Instead I just want to share one thing. . . . During my career at Arizona coach Miller always had our back. He would make sure we were doing well on the court and in the class room, he would check in with our families, he would push us in practice, and he would make sure he always gave us his best effort. To me that’s standard. I had something to offer him. I would go out every day and give my all in games, push my teammates in practice, and do my best to help us win. Why wouldn’t he have my back? What isn’t standard is how he treats me now. I can’t practice, I can’t help him win games, I can’t help the younger players learn the ropes. Yet he still goes out of his way to support me. You learn a lot about someone by paying close attention to the way they treat you when you have nothing to offer them . . . Every summer I am welcomed back to Arizona with open arms. I have full access to the gym, managers, locker room, training staff, cold tub, EVERYTHING. Why would he do this? Because even though I have nothing to offer him, that’s the type of person Sean Miller is. The courtesy he shows me has been crucial in my rise as a pro. Take that a step further, when I asked him if he was interested in donating to my pencils of promise fundraiser, ( an organization that brings education to children in need ), he cut me off, “how much” he asked with a smile on his face. Coach Miller continues to support me in not only basketball, but in all aspects of my life, and things I am passionate about. Coach Miller treats all his players like this. The thing that speaks volumes to me, is that unlike most of the guys who played for coach miller, I wasn’t even one of his recruits . . . I will always support coach Miller and I am a wildcat for life. Don’t be someone who kicks a man when he is down or leaves him when he needs your support most. He is a great coach, husband, father, and person. I know the incredible wildcat fans will never give up on Arizona and will give coach Sean Miller the respect he deserves. #Beardown

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Gabe York – guard (2012-16)

York reached the Elite Eight twice with Miller. During his time with the Wildcats, York was one of the top sharpshooters in the Pac-12, averaging 41 percent from deep as an upperclassman.

T.J. McConnell – guard (2013-15)

After transferring from Duquesne, McConnell stepped into a starting guard spot and went 67-9 in two years at Arizona. A hard-nosed player, McConnell was key to the defensive success Arizona has had under Miller.

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