Speaking to reporters for the first time since he was implicated in a scandal encompassing the Louisville basketball program, LSU freshman Antonio Blakeney said he kept quiet about the allegations as they began to surface and retreated to the gym.
“If it wasn’t for basketball, I don’t know how I would have reacted to some of those things,” he said Friday after LSU’s exhibition victory over Southwest Baptist in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. “When all of those things pop up, I would just get in the gym. When I’m in the gym, that’s my tunnel vision. I’m not thinking of nothing else. I wasn’t responding to nobody because nobody knew what was really going on. I didn’t speak on it to anyone who asked me; I stayed in the gym and kept getting better.”
Katina Powell, a prostitute who alleged she was paid by a former Louisville staffer to provide women to recruits during their visits to Louisville, named Blakeney as a recruit who had a sexual encounter with one of the women. Also named in the report was former LSU standout Jordan Mickey, now in the NBA with the Boston Celtics.
Blakeney, who had 16 points in Friday’s 98-72 win, met with the NCAA about the allegations.
“It was fine,” Blakeney said. “They just asked me, and I was honest with them. And that was pretty much it.”
Coach Johnny Jones lauded the freshman for avoiding the outside distractions and echoed Blakeney’s sentiments, saying that a gym floor “is a place where guys can get away from everything and block everything out.”
“I thought he did a tremendous job,” Jones said. “I thought the people around him, his teammates and everyone else involved did a great job with him, keeping him focused and in terms of supporting him as well. That’s a part of growing up, and I thought he did a great job of handling it.”