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Ex-Arizona player ‘pretty sure’ Salinas tied to coaches for more than investments

Until the NCAA completes an investigation into the connection between Houston-area businessman David Salinas and several college basketball coaches who invested with him, the story won’t gain much public interest until a player or coach says Salinas was the reason behind a player’s recruitment.

That day is coming, too.

Former Arizona player Juwann McClellan – who played for Salinas’ AAU team in Houston – told Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star that he’s “pretty sure” coaches invested with Salinas for more than just financial purposes. However, McClellan says his relationship to Salinas wasn’t a factor in his choice to attend Arizona.

From the paper:

McClellan said Salinas was only involved in his decision to attend UA because he was a friend of former UA assistant and former Rice head coach Scott Thompson, who saw McClellan play travel-ball events for Salinas’ Houston Select team.

Whether anyone else managed to curry favor with Salinas, McClellan declined to say.

“I’m pretty sure Coach did run one of top two programs in the city, and I’m pretty sure he had players loaded up so you’d think coaches tried to get a relationship with him,” McClellan said. “But whether Salinas went for that is neither here nor there.”

I’d buy that, too. The ‘Cats were a choice spot in 2002 when McClellan committed. But if he says something fishy was probably going on, it’s only a matter of time before some incriminating story emerges.

As for then-Arizona coach Lute Olson, who reportedly lost more than $1 million thanks to a Salinas scheme, he says all that money was given to Salinas after he retired from Arizona in 2008.

“I’ve known David (Salinas) for a long time and feel horrible for his family. That (his passing) is something that none of his friends could have expected. Yes, I’ve invested with David, and he’s been a friend for a while, but I did not invest money until after I had retired from coaching.”

Maybe the big bombshell won’t drop until the NCAA does its thing.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.