LSU guard Javonte Smart, whose recruitment by coach Will Wade has reportedly been linked to an FBI wiretap, will sit out Saturday’s regular-season finale against Vanderbilt, the university announced.
Wade was suspended indefinitely by the university Friday after reports that FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between the coach and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins about frustration to close a “strong-ass offer” for a recruit.
According to people familiar with the calls, Wade was frustrated with a handler of Smart, who was then a top-50 recruit from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Now a freshman, Smart is averaging 11.5 points and 3.3 rebounds for the No. 10 Tigers (25-5, 15-2), who have clinched a share of the SEC regular-season title and the top seed in the conference tournament.
LSU, in a statement, said it was holding Smart out of Saturday’s game out “of an abundance of caution and as a result of the lack of clarity” regarding the reports about Wade.
“This decision does not suggest, in any way, wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing on Javonte’s part or his family,” the LSU statement said. “Javonte and his family have been fully cooperative and open with university officials.
“The decision to hold Javonte from [Saturday’s] game is a difficult and disappointing one for everyone involved. Javonte is a valuable member of the team, the university and the LSU family. The university and NCAA continue to review the matter in order to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.”
ESPN has independently verified the calls between Dawkins and Wade, which occurred in 2017, when the FBI was monitoring one of Dawkins’ cellphones as part of the federal government’s clandestine investigation into college basketball corruption.
Yahoo Sports first reported details about the contents of one of the telephone calls on Thursday.
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade told Dawkins during one of the calls. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like, I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.
“Dude,” Wade continued during the call. “I went to [the handler] with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong.
“The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now. It was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit. It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like, it was tilted towards that. Now, I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”
“It was a [expletive] hell of a [expletive] offer,” Wade continued. “Hell of an offer. … Especially for a kid who is going to be a two- or three-year kid.”
In a different telephone call with Dawkins, Wade joked that the player would be compensated more than the “rookie minimum.”
Wade told Dawkins that he had made deals for “as good of players as him” that were “a lot simpler than this.”
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach contributed to this report.