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Continued: 'Package deal' for former Cooper star Vaughn draws scrutiny

Kaffey, 27, pleaded guilty in 2004 to first-degree aggravated robbery. In the case, Kaffey and another man were charged with pulling up to a playground in Brooklyn Center in a purple Dodge and pistol-whipping one victim with the butt of a gun. A second victim, court records showed, was hit several times on the back of the head as he tried to put his infant into a car. According to the complaint, they took roughly $250 and a cellphone.

After successfully completing and being released early from probation, according to court records, Kaffey’s sentence was permanently stayed.

Said F. Clayton Tyler, Kaffey’s attorney: “I can’t say whether he’s a good guy, or a bad guy, but I think that there’s some records that would reflect that he wasn’t a bad guy.”

In a text message last month, Kaffey indicated he would not discuss the case but said that it was “incorrect” to say he had a criminal conviction.

By mid-July, Kaffey was operating in another world from the one he left behind in Minnesota. He said in a phone conversation from Washington, D.C., where he was watching Vaughn, Reid and Jones play in a summer tournament that “I’m here checking them out.” He said he would be back in Minnesota for a few days, then off to Las Vegas and Los Angeles for basketball tournaments and camps. “I’m super busy,” he said.

By late September, Kaffey was at Findlay Prep and talking of how Anthony Bennett, a former Findlay Prep and UNLV player, was the first pick in June’s NBA draft and how that had influenced Vaughn’s decision to transfer. Taylor Bern, a Las Vegas Sun reporter who covers UNLV, said the arrival of Vaughn and then Kaffey at Findlay Prep “looked completely like a package deal.”

Back in Minnesota, the feeling was largely the same. Kaffey’s “got his relationship with Rashad — I really don’t know really what that is,” said Rene Pulley, the executive director of Howard Pulley Basketball in Minnesota. “We don’t have ‘handlers’ or ‘mentors’ here.”

Burton, the Cooper coach, insisted he was not “blindsided” by Vaughn’s departure, but also said he “didn’t expect Kaffey [his top assistant] to resign.

“I feel like I’m the best coach for” Vaughn, said Burton, who attended the going-away party in August at Vaughn’s home.

“It’s still a business,” Burton said of sports — even at the high school level. “Once we can admit that it is a business, then we can move on.”

 

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