After the Lance Thomas allegations took off like a rocket, looked to have life, then fizzled, “here we go again” is an entirely appropriate reaction when Ben McLemore says he will speak with NCAA investigators regarding his former AAU coach Darius Cobb.
“I would tell them the truth and tell them what I know, and just cooperate with them,” McLemore said at the NBA’s predraft combine. “Hopefully they’ll cooperate with me and hear my side.”
To be fair to Thomas, McLemore’s comments sound much more specific than Thomas’. Thomas talked about “everything coming out” and hoping that information came out “in the right way.” McLemore seems much more committed to cooperating with the NCAA, and has some additional motivation:
“My reaction was like, ‘Wow,’ ” he said. “That was someone that I could trust, and I put a person in my circle that I felt comfortable with and I know a long time that I wanted to help me through this process [of selecting an agent]. And for him to say the things he did and put that out there like that, I wish it wasn’t true … [Cobb] put me in jeopardy and my family in jeopardy.”
Beyond clearing his name and Kansas’s reputation, McLemore may talk to the NCAA to ensure that the record firmly reflects that Cobb was the bad guy. And since Cobb appears to be on a scorched earth campaign against Rodney Blackstock, McLemore may respond in kind.
But until McLemore actually talks with the NCAA, there is no guarantee he will. He is no longer obligated to cooperate with the NCAA, unless he is worried about his stats and records being vacated. But even if he does, Cobb is the more important witness for the NCAA.
Even if no violation comes out of this case, it offers the NCAA an opportunity to continue building its expertise and background knowledge of the shadier areas of the basketball world. McLemore might only tell them things they already know about the relationships and benefits provided between players and AAU coaches. The chance to detail the relationship between an agent/runner/recruiter and someone within a star player’s inner circle is a much rarer and more valuable opportunity.