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John Wall, once the nation's top recruit, on the NCAA basketball FBI allegations

John Wall, once the nation's top recruit, on the NCAA basketball FBI allegations

Some of the biggest names in NCAA basketball are currently dealing with a scandal that could ultimately have wide-reaching effects on the sport and it's most prominent programs and coaches.

Though those in the NBA are effectively removed from it all, most of the league's players were  once stars at the collegiate level, and many of them for the schools that were implicated.

Kentucky was not one of the schools implicated in the FBI investigation, but John Wall has an interesting perspective as the former No. 1 recruit in the nation.

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"If you are the No. 1 guy or the top guy, you're going to have guys come at you. But you have to be smart about it. If you are only going to school for one year, there's no point in doing all the extra stuff. If you don't have any money and have been poor your whole life, another eight months won't hurt," Wall said.

"I was trusting no one. Listen, I grew up without a dad since the age of nine. It was my mom working three or four jobs to support our family. If she could provide from me then, then she could provide for me when I was 17 or 18 years old for a few months. You know what I mean? You couldn't do nothing for me then. I'd been poor my whole life. Eight months? What is that money going to do for me? I was fine with it."

Wall's teammate Bradley Beal was a top recruit before he chose the University of Florida. He too recalls people trying to lead him the wrong way.

"I was always by-the-book, even in my recruiting process. I had coaches who wanted to offer me stuff or offer my family stuff, but that wasn't what I was about and that wasn't what my family was about," Beal said. 

"At the end of the day, I went to a program where Coach [Billy Donovan] didn't guarantee my anything. He didn't guarantee I was going to start or that I was going to play. That was something that I respected. Coming out of college, I was actually about to go back to college. I decided to come out on the last deadline day. For me, it wasn't like that. It's crazy what today's generation is like. Kids are taking stuff in high school, taking things in college and stuff like that. For me, my story wasn't like that."

The FBI allegations center around coaches allegedly taking tens of thousands of dollars to set players up with financial advisors and agents. Schools like Arizona, Southern California, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Auburn have been implicated and others could be uncovered in the future. 

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Capital City Go-Go to hold open tryouts in search of local talent in D.C. area

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USA TODAY Sports

Capital City Go-Go to hold open tryouts in search of local talent in D.C. area

The inaugural season of the Washington Wizards' G-League franchise, the Capital City Go-Go, will bring a lot of new experiences for the D.C. area and that includes the process of open tryouts as they seek the best players in the community to fill out their final roster spots.

There will be an opportunity for the best basketball players in the region to showcase their talent in front of Go-Go executives. They don't know if there will be one or two tryouts, when or where they will be held, but the expectation is sometime in September. 

Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu is hoping for a big turnout.

"I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how many people and what kind of talent we can have coming out to those local tryouts. Once we got those dates, we’ll get them out to the community and hopefully we get a ton of guys coming out here to represent their area," he said.

"Whoever comes out, we’ll love it. The more the merrier. It might make our job harder to choose, but I’m okay with that. It’s an expansion team. We’re looking to put this team together and if we have 200 guys come out, that would be great. It just gives us more of an opportunity and a bigger pool to look through. I’m okay with a lot of guys coming out."

Tryouts are commonplace in the G-League, but the Go-Go expect to have an advantage based on their location. The D.C. area is a hotbed for basketball talent and over the years has produced many NBA players and Division 1 college stars.

Mensah-Bonsu can attest to that, having spent many years in the area. He was a star at George Washington University, was with the Wizards in training camp during his professional playing days and has since stuck around to make the city his home.

"The DMV area has a wealth of basketball talent," he said.

Go-Go head coach Jarell Christian is relatively new to the area, but he expects the tryouts to be productive for a G-League talent search. He has held open tryouts before when he was a member of the G-League staff in Oklahoma City. But this isn't Oklahoma City.

"The talent level in Oklahoma City is different than here in D.C., so I think we’ll be able to find some really good players, locally in those tryouts," Christian said.

Christian said that those who want to sign up will likely need to get in contact with members of the front office, either by themselves or with the help of an agent. He mentioned Mensah-Bonsu and also Scott Schroeder, their assistant GM.

Christian and the coaching staff will run them through drills and scrimmages to evaluate which players to keep. Once they see the basketball skills, they will put them through background checks and get testimonials, just like any other job.

"We just want to get a feel for what the players can do. Also, we’ve gotta get to know them and their character. If we do like a player, we’ve gotta make sure we call their references and they check out as being people that we want in our organization at the end of the day," Christian said.

The G-League allows each team to invite up to five players from their tryouts to participate in preseason training camp.

There are several stipulations when it comes to who can try out. Players have to be at least 18 years old and international prospects are often not allowed. The tryouts also generally require a registration fee. More information on the requirements for the Go-Go tryouts will be released once the dates are set.

Open tryouts for other teams around the G-League have produced some unique success stories. Guys who have gone on to make the NBA include Jonathan Simmons and David Nwaba. Perhaps the Go-Go will find the next diamond in the rough.

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Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

The city of Washington, where he grew up near and was a star in college at Georgetown University, isn't the only factor that makes joining the Wizards familiar for Jeff Green. He is also reuniting with his former coach, Scott Brooks, who now leads the Wizards.

Long ago, Brooks was cutting his teeth on the sidelines while Green was finding his way on the court. When Green was a rookie on the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, Brooks was a 42-year-old assistant coach. The team moved to Oklahoma City the following year and by late November of 2008, Brooks was the head coach after P.J. Carlesimo was fired.

Brooks helped oversee Green's first four seasons as an NBA player and Green remembers those days well.

"He looked way better than he does now," Green joked.

Brooks, now 53, has a knack for taking playful shots at those he works with, whether that be players, fellow coaches or the media. Green is clearly on that level and feels comfortable ribbing his head coach, knowing he can both dish it out and take it.

All jokes aside, Green is still appreciative of the tutelage he received from Brooks back in the day.

"Scotty was my No. 1 guy, he’s always been, but when I first stepped foot on an NBA floor, he was there for me. He was a coach with Seattle when I first got into the league," Green said.

The NBA has taken Brooks and Green to very different places in the seven years since they split ways. Green left for the Celtics and has since played for the Grizzlies, Clippers, Magic and most recently the Cavaliers. Brooks stuck around with OKC through the 2014-15 season before he was let go. After taking a year off, he joined the Wizards.

Much has changed in Brooks and Green's lives. They have lost and gained jobs. Their families have grown. Now, they are back on the same team and Green is excited about it.

"We’ve been close and tight ever since. We never lost contact. So, I’m looking forward to being coached by him again. I know he’s going to put us all in great positions to succeed. We just have to do our part on the floor," Green said.

Green spoke with Brooks on the phone before deciding to sign with the Wizards as a free agent in July. His presence was one of the many reasons he felt Washington was a good fit.

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