lsuarkansasbasketball.020319 HS 495.JPG

Still seated from a timeout, LSU coach Will Wade looks up to forward Naz Reid (0) before play resumes against Arkansas, Saturday, February 2, 2019, at LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.

For the third time, beleaguered LSU men's basketball coach Will Wade found his name dragged into a federal investigation into college basketball on Monday, with evidence suggesting he'd tried to broker payments for a top recruit.

This time, a federally convicted former Arizona assistant claimed Wade told him about a $300,000 deal to land star forward Naz Reid in a secretly recorded FBI video shown in federal court.

Emanuel "Book" Richardson mentioned Wade's supposed deal while explaining recruiting battles in the Southeastern Conference in a secretly recorded conversation with a since-convicted financial manager named Munish Sood and a pair of undercover FBI agents, according to CBS Sports.

In the video, Richardson said Wade approached him about jumping from Arizona for a job at LSU — apparently because the Arizona assistant had built a relationship with Reid, then a 5-star recruit out of New Jersey.

"Look, there’s a deal in place, I got $300,000 for him," Richardson claimed Wade told him in the undercover video.

"I said, 'Listen, s---, give me half that and I'll make sure he goes there,'" Richardson said.

Richardson told Sood and the FBI agents that Wade approached him as LSU and Arizona battled for a commitment from Reid, who publicly named the universities as his two top choices.

The star forward ended up headlining Wade's highly rated 2018 recruiting class and helped lead LSU to the Sweet 16 in this year's NCAA tournament. He's since declared for the NBA draft.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation," said Jason Droddy, LSU's interim vice president for strategic communication. "Due to the fluid nature of this matter, LSU will refrain from commenting until further notice.”

Wade's alleged boast about a six-figure deal for Reid is the third time the coach has been publicly connected with potential pay-to-play deals — which are against NCAA bylaws — during the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball.

LSU suspended Wade for more than a month after Yahoo Sports and ESPN reported leaked contents of wiretapped phone conversations between Wade and Christian Dawkins, a basketball middleman and aspiring sports agent. On the wiretap, they reportedly talk about "the Smart thing" and a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit. The latter comment appears to be a reference to LSU guard Javonte Smart, then a star player at Baton Rouge's Scotlandville High.

Wade's offer for the recruit, the coach told Dawkins, "was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid" and that Wade had trouble closing the deal because a middleman close to the player "didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal."

Smart, like Reid, has since declared for the NBA draft after their freshman seasons. Reid, an SEC all-freshman performer, is widely expected to be selected in the draft while Smart is considered a more fringe pro prospect.

Under NCAA rules, both players could change their minds and return for their sophomore seasons at LSU.

In another wiretapped conversation, a portion of which was read at the earlier trial, Wade and Dawkins discussed another highly ranked high school player — Serbian center Balsa Koprivica — who ended up committing to play at Florida State.

Dawkins referred to Koprivica in the conversation as a player "you would have funded."

Wade responded by telling Dawkins he's "got to shut the door" before telling Dawkins, "I can get you what you need, but it’s got to work."

The full wiretap of that conversation wasn't played at the October trial. The portion of the call read in court didn't clarify what Wade meant by "what you need," but federal prosecutors and attorneys for Dawkins and Code all indicated they believed Wade was referring to money.

LSU suspended Wade on March 8, officially because the coach refused to meet with university and NCAA officials. On April 12, Wade agreed to a meeting — after he missed the entirety of the SEC and NCAA tournaments — and on April 14 he was reinstated. Two days later, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva resigned and the school hired Scott Woodward to replace him.

But Wade's troubles aren't over, if Monday's evidence is any indication.

Dawkins and Merl Code Jr., who ran elite youth basketball programs for shoemaker Adidas, are on federal trial for allegedly bribing assistant college coaches, including Richardson.

Sood, a New Jersey investment manager, had gone into business with Dawkins in hopes of landing future professional basketball players as lucrative clients. Sood pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and fraud charges last August in a deal with federal prosecutors. He's since become a star government witness in their cases against Dawkins, Code and others.

Sood testified Monday that Richardson told him LSU seemed "more willing to pay him (Reid) to attend LSU" than coaches at Arizona, according to a transcript posted by reporter Adam Zagoria.

It's not immediately clear from courtroom accounts exactly when in 2017 Richardson's alleged conversation with Wade occurred.

Reid announced on August 18, 2017, that he'd whittled his list of schools to two finalists, LSU and Arizona. He verbally committed to LSU on Sept. 12 of that year, the day after Wade visited the 5-star recruit, according to 247 Sports.

Reid officially signed with LSU on Nov. 13.

Attorneys for Wade didn't respond to emails seeking comment on Monday. An attorney for Richardson declined to comment.

Richardson was fired by Arizona after the FBI arrested him as part of its investigation into college basketball corruption. He pleaded guilty in January to to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Richardson is scheduled to be sentenced May 30. He was accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes to steer Arizona players toward certain managers and financial advisers. In conversations secretly recorded by the FBI, Richardson repeatedly asked for money to help pay Arizona players.

Richardson asked Sood for several thousands dollars for star Arizona recruits and complained that payoffs to players and their families left him "broke," Zagoria reported. Richardson also said he'd tapped his retirement account to cover payments, according to CBS Sports.

It's unclear just how much of Richardson's chatter with Sood might've been bluster or exaggeration. Prosecutors pressed Sood for details on other payments to Richardson or Arizona players but didn't present other evidence to substantiate an offer for Reid.

Testimony in the case is set to resume Tuesday morning.

The ongoing federal trial against Dawkins focuses on alleged bribes paid to assistant coaches at Oklahoma State, Arizona and the University of Southern California, though testimony or wiretaps played in court have raised allegations against numerous other basketball programs — and even some football programs.

The latest mention of Wade came despite federal district Judge Edgardo Ramos' initial ruling earlier this month that neither Wade nor Arizona coach Sean Miller would be allowed to testify at the trial.

Defense attorneys for Dawkins had sought to put Wade and Miller on the stand in an effort to show payoffs to players or their families — banned by NCAA rules — are common in college basketball and that university officials tacitly, or even explicitly, encouraged the payments.

Ramos indicated he might change his mind during the trial but rejected a second request last week to have Miller testify.

Dawkins was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy — alongside Code and former Adidas marketing executive Jim Gatto — for steering payoffs to relatives of recruits at Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina State at a federal trial in October.


Can't see video below? Click here.


As part of Wade's return to LSU, the second-year coach agreed to give up $250,000 in bonuses for his team’s SEC championship season and two victories in the NCAA tournament.

Wade also agreed to a new clause in his contract allowing LSU to fire him if he commits a Level I or Level II NCAA violation or if the NCAA infractions committee issues a formal notice to LSU that Wade was involved in such a violation. Included in the NCAA's definition for Level I and II are violations that involve a "substantial recruiting, competitive or other advantage" or a "substantial impermissible benefit."


Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.