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AAU coach testifies to paying Deandre Ayton’s family friend $15,000

Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton speaks during media day at the NBA basketball team's practice facility in Phoenix, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

An AAU coach and Adidas consultant testified Wednesday in federal court over allegations about dirty money in college hoops to paying the family of Suns center Deandre Ayton during his high school recruitment.

On Wednesday, T.J. Gassnola listed Ayton among a group of then-amateur players whose families accepted money, thus breaking NCAA rules.

Gassnola said Thursday the details of that payment, worth $15,000, which was given to a family friend of Ayton’s when the big man was a high school junior. That money was to be given to Ayton’s mother and used to “establish a relationship” to get the player on board with Adidas, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.

Ayton attended a single Adidas basketball event, Adidas Nations, afterward.

The center, who attended Arizona for his freshman season before departing for the NBA draft, had previously not been named in the trial.

He was, however, named in a Feb. 23 report from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach that said Arizona head coach Sean Miller was allegedly heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 to ensure a commitment from Ayton. Miller allegedly was heard on the wiretap speaking with Christian Dawkins, who was linked to a sports agency that has been implicated in the scandal that began with 10 arrests.

In February, an attorney obtained by the University of Arizona to conduct an internal investigation of the basketball program amid the scandal said center Ayton “abided by all applicable rules and regulations,” and the center didn’t miss a game during his lone college season.

“In each of these interviews, Mr. Ayton has credibly and consistently maintained that neither he nor any member of his family, nor any representative thereof, received any money or extra benefit to influence his decision to attend the University of Arizona,” read a statement from Paul Kelly, who was hired as outside counsel in October following the arrest of then-assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson.

Earlier in the trial, the father of a top-rated college basketball prospect testified Thursday that his son was offered thousands of dollars on the sly to play at major programs before a corruption scandal derailed the player’s collegiate career.

Brian Bowen Sr. said that Dawkins, an aspiring agent, told the father he could pocket $50,000 if his son played at the University of Arizona, $150,000 at Oklahoma State or $100,000 at Creighton. Bowen said there was some interest from Oregon but didn’t recall cash offer.

On Tuesday during Pac-12 women’s basketball media day, league commissioner Larry Scott said he was “concerned” over the investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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