Well, the ol’ saying is the Lord does not give with two hands.
The same day that a Ross Dellenger (guess he made it back from Wrestlemania) report in Sports Illustrated indicated that LSU basketball coach Will Wade and university administrators plan to meet on Friday, for the first time since he was suspended 34 days ago, two more underclassmen announced plans to enter the NBA Draft.
This morning, freshman guard Javonte Smart announced his plans to enter the draft via his Instagram account:
And this afternoon, freshman forward Emmitt Williams announced similar plans via his:
Will the last one out of the practice facility please turn the lights out?
Williams averaged 7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this year, but was a major source of energy for the team.
Smart, a Baton Rouge native who was also linked to the FBI wiretap scandal that led to Wade’s suspension, averaged 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game this season.
Assistant coach Tony Benford, who took over as interim head coach during the suspension and led the Tigers to the Sweet Sixteen, is also expected to leave for a position on new Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams’ staff.
In light of recent reports indicating that Wade may not even be called to testify in the trial of alleged shoe company bagman Christian Dawkins, its hard to know exactly what to expect of tomorrow’s reported meeting. Could Wade and LSU mend fences, or will this be the opening of divorce negotiations?
Just four weeks ago, the two sides seemed leagues apart. Wade even responded to a public ultimatum from the school—talk or remain suspended—by releasing a statement calling the university’s decision “inappropriate,” but two recent developments may have been catalysts for a meeting. On Friday, federal prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to prevent Wade from testifying at an upcoming bribery trial in the FBI’s investigation into the seedy underworld of college basketball. Many believe he will not have to testify. The other advancement in the case came in the form of an addition to Wade’s team of attorneys. Steven Thompson, a Chicago-based lawyer known for his work with coaches on NCAA matters, joined the group to lead the coach’s NCAA infractions counsel. Thompson also represents Arizona coach Sean Miller and Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who, like Wade, were both caught in the FBI’s probe. Michael McGovern, working at the New York-based firm Ropes & Gray, remains Wade’s lead counsel in the case.
Friday’s meeting isn’t all that surprising. Sports Illustrated reported last week that the two sides were inching toward a meeting after the addition of Thompson. Details of the meeting are unclear, but the NCAA is expected to be heavily involved. The NCAA’s involvement is the reason Wade, under advice of his previous infractions counsel, originally refused to meet with LSU. The NCAA has requested to be involved in all interviews on this matter, and NCAA investigators often lead the questioning in these joint interviews, such as the ones conducted last month with LSU guard Javonte Smart.
Some rumors, both online and relayed to me, indicate that Wade could be on his way back. Personally, it seems like a lot to overcome, and its only a matter of time until another P5 job opens up. And in the basketball world, the sphere of programs that are at least LSU’s equal is much larger than other sports (the newly open Cincinnati, for instance).
Of course, even more administrative changes could be on tap for LSU in the coming year, so who knows what anybody is thinking right now.