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Star’s Hansen believes Arizona’s Miller already ‘realized it was all over’

Arizona head coach Sean Miller in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game against Utah, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: Greg Hansen, Arizona Daily Star

The initial report that connected Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller to the illegal recruiting practices previously linked to his assistant coach could be just the beginning.

That’s the opinion of Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen.

He believes Miller’s and the school’s silence since the UA coach was named in an ESPN report tying him to the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption will only lead to one thing: Miller being fired or stepping down.

“My guess is when the FBI raided his home early (on) that one morning, the same morning they raided (former assistant coach) Book Richardson’s home, he realized it was all over,” Hansen told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “That is just my opinion. He knew there were things out there that would implicate him.”

A Friday report from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach revealed Miller was allegedly recorded on an FBI wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 to ensure a commitment from now-freshman Deandre Ayton. Miller allegedly was heard on the wiretap speaking with Christian Dawkins, a runner linked to a sports agency that has been implicated in the college basketball scandal that began with 10 arrests.

Lawyers representing Ayton and those hired by the school have said they are confident the center never received improper benefits.

As evidence, Arizona cleared Ayton to play after the Friday news came down. Hansen said he believes Ayton was erroneously named as the topic of discussion in the ESPN report.

“I don’t even think it was Deandre Ayton who was mentioned in that report,” Hansen said. “I think it was (former Louisville commit) Brian Bowen. I think they got that wrong. I think there are so many (things) that ESPN screwed it up.

“I talked to someone yesterday — his name might rhyme with ‘look’ — and he said that it wasn’t Ayton at all. It was Brian Bowen.”

In a later interview with Burns & Gambo, Hansen clarified that he believes that it was Bowen and not Ayton after speaking to a person who had spoken to Richardson, not Richardson himself.

The Daily Star later issued a story that said their reporters had not confirmed the information.

“I don’t know if it’s true or not,” Hansen said. “That’s second-hand info.”

Bowen committed to Louisville and was named as a topic in Yahoo! Sports’ report regarding the college basketball recruiting scandal.

But back to Miller: Why does Hansen believe the coach knows his days are numbered?

Hansen believes Miller stopped recruiting at a high level in September, the same month Richardson was arrested on fraud and bribery charges.

Arizona currently has one commit in its 2018 recruiting class as the scandal has robbed them of prior recruits, most recently four-star forward Shareef O’Neal.

“They got nobody,” Hansen said. “No way Sean Miller is going to come back and coach a team that goes 3-15 in the Pac-12. They have to start over. That is my opinion.

“My feeling is the UofA wants to start over as quickly as possible, get the transition years behind them with a new coach who has some kind of a brand, and start over because they’re really going to be bad next year — really bad. They’re going to be two-star players there who they have to recruit between now and July.”

Following the Friday news of Miller’s alleged involvement in the FBI investigation, Arizona has only released a statement alongside Miller’s own. He said he would be vindicated.

The school has closed off most of the players — with the exception of Parker Jackson-Cartwright’s post-game interview Saturday — and associate head coach Lorenzo Romar, who coached the Wildcats in an overtime loss to the Oregon Ducks.

“I think one thing that has gone unsaid is, ‘Is there anything else coming in regards to Sean Miller?’ I think from the beginning that has colored this whole thing with the attorneys and especially with the UofA,” Hansen said. “Is this the only thing that’s going to be mentioned with Sean Miller with illicit recruiting?

“Maybe he wants to get out of here because he knows it’s inevitable (that) four, seven months from now there’s going to be more mentions of him in this.”

Hansen believes the school and Miller will find a resolution to his future before Arizona plays at home on Thursday.

Asked if he believes Miller knew about Richardson’s association with Dawkins, Hansen said this:

“Sean Miller is a control freak at the top of all control freaks. His hand is on everything. He runs everything with an iron fist here. He didn’t give Book a raise three years ago and he raised all of his other assistants because he didn’t think Book recruited well enough.

“I would have a hard time believing he didn’t know all of this.”

Bickley & Marotta