The first insistence received that I had to watch “The Scheme,’’ the freshly arrived HBO documentary on college basketball corruption, came from my wife. That was quite an endorsement, since in her memory she has never attended a college basketball game.
So, you find out the film revolves around Christian Dawkins, the young guy who took … no, paid … no, was middle man for …. what did he do?
Turns out, what Dawkins did was take the fall, after the FBI and the prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney office for the Southern District of New York decided they weren’t all that interested in fully exposing “the dark underbelly of college basketball’’ — as the Southern District’s Joon Kim had boasted when announcing charges in September 2017.
The FBI looks much worse in the film for being sucked into this by Marty Blazer, a convicted financial fraudster, than does Dawkins.
Christian was 22 and an unknown when he came up with two players, Elfrid Payton and Rodney Hood, in the top 23 of the 2014 NBA draft.
That put him into the big-time of basketball agency, with the task of building a bond with the best AAU players and their families that would survive a college career (preferably short) and have the player sign with Dawkins’ agency before the NBA draft.
Dawkins wasn’t taking money from college coaches. He was paying money to players, their families and perhaps an AAU coach with long-term influence.
The higher-level the program, the better the chance for a Dawkins player to be taken in the first round.
That’s how you wind up hearing Arizona’s Sean Miller and LSU’s Will Wade on taped phone calls with Dawkins, discussing what it’s taking to land prized recruits.
Take Mrs. Reusse’s advice: Watch “The Scheme.’’ And prepare to be astounded by the behavior in this order: 1-FBI. 2-Wade.
• Dawkins isn’t convincing as he explains $42,000 in Uber rides for various clients that wound up on Elfrid Payton’s credit card and was exposed in 2017.
• Dawkins was convicted in two trials on wire fraud and bribery charges and sentenced to a combined 18 months.
• Watch the documentary and you’re likely to agree with a column written in May 2019 by the New York Times’ Michael Powell under the headline: “The Most Honest Man in College Basketball is Going to Prison.’’
Write to Patrick Reusse by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and including his name in the subject line.