The UA issued a statement Wednesday night, after government witness Marty Blazer said he believed he was told on a videotaped conversation that Wildcats coach Sean Miller was paying Deandre Ayton.
It read: "We are aware of the reports of the testimony today by a Government witness. We will continue to monitor the proceedings. As has been stated previously, the University of Arizona is committed to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct in all of our athletic programs and our commitment to those principles is unwavering."
The Star previously sought comment from multiple UA spokespeople on Friday, after defense attorney Steve Haney told a federal judge that the government is aware of clear evidence that Miller "is paying players," but did not receive a response. Miller has repeatedly referred to statements he made more than a year ago, when he first denied an ESPN report that he discussed a $100,000 payment to Ayton and said he's never paid players, their families or their representatives in exchange for a commitment to Arizona.
The video presented in court on Wednesday showed defendant Christian Dawkins, partner Munish Sood, Blazer and an undercover FBI agent talking aboard a yacht, with Dawkins saying Miller told him "I'm taking care of everything myself" regarding Ayton, the UA's star freshman in 2017-18.
While testifying Wednesday, Blazer explained what he thought those words referred to.
“I understood that to mean he was taking care of payments to Deandre Ayton,” Blazer said. “Sean Miller was taking care of everything for Deandre Ayton and his family.”
There was never doubt that Haney was going to try to bring up Dawkins' relationship with Miller during the current federal college basketball bribery trial — if he could.
U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled last Friday that he wouldn't compel Miller and LSU coach Will Wade to testify, agreeing with federal prosecutors' argument that the coaches' alleged actions weren't relevant to the bribery charges facing Dawkins. Since Dawkins is accused of bribing assistant coaches, providing evidence of a close relationship with head coaches might provide context helpful to Dawkins' case.
Then, in somewhat of a surprise, the feds on Wednesday queued up the video involving discussion of Dawkins' relationship with Miller — something that may have opened the door back up.
When he issued his ruling prohibiting Miller's testimony, Ramos said he was open to the idea of changing his mind based on the evidence that came forth. As Adam Zagoria reported for the Star from New York, Haney will ask Ramos on Thursday morning to reconsider a Miller testimony.
None of this means that Miller has been or could be charged with any crime. But if Miller testifies, he could be asked on the stand about specifics regarding his relationship with Dawkins and recruiting.
Chase Jeter's name didn't appear on the NBA's list of early draft entrants, another sign he's probably headed back to Arizona, though he would have the option of grad-transferring somewhere else. (A full early entry list is attached as a PDF).
A total of 17 Pac-12 players added their names to the pool, including UA's Brandon Randolph. The 16 others:
Oregon: Bol Bol, Louis King, Kenny Wooten, Payton Pritchard.
UCLA: Jaylen Hands, Moses Brown, Kris Wilkes.
Oregon State: Tres Tinkle, Ethan Thompson
Utah: Jayce Johnson, Donnie Tillman
Washington: Jaylen Nowell
USC: Kevin Porter, Jr.
ASU: Luguentz Dort
Stanford: KZ Okpala
WSU: CJ Elleby
Jeff Goodman's transfer tracker is up to over 700 players, including more than a dozen from Pac-12 schools.