Join us daily at ACC DieHards for the latest North Carolina recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Tar Heels. Don’t miss any coverage from Cody Pace and the DieHards.com team. Read his daily notebooks here at 9 a.m. ET Monday through Friday. In this edition, we discuss Nassir Little’s first public reaction to the FBI investigation that implicated his recruitment and his AAU coach.
It’s been a wild couple weeks on the recruiting trail for North Carolina.
The FBI investigation that shook the college basketball world hit close to one of the Tar Heels prime targets, 5-star small forward Nassir Little. Through wire taps, the FBI found that adidas was wiring money to secure players commitments to adidas schools.
It is believed that Little is one of the players implicated, as his AAU coach Jonathan Brad Augustine was one of the defendants on the initial set of charges brought forth by the FBI. According to the FBI’s report, Little is alleged to have asked Arizona for $150,000 for his commitment, which turned into a bidding war between Arizona and Miami.
Despite the whirlwind surrounding his recruitment, Little decided to push forward anyway and committed to North Carolina last Wednesday. While he spoke about his commitment, he did not address the FBI investigation.
That changed last weekend, when Little sat down with Scout’s Sean Moran at the USA Basketball minicamp held in Colorado Springs, Colo. In the interview, Little denied any involvement in illegal recruiting activities.
“It’s a situation where you know it’s not true so there isn’t a point in getting riled up about it,” Little told Moran. “Whether I did it or not, you are going to believe what you want to believe so it’s just one of those things. Most of it has been social media, nobody has come up and said anything to my face, so I just don’t look at my phone and as long as I don’t search my name on Twitter you don’t hear anything.”
While the FBI investigation is likely to have serious implications for many programs, it might end up being a positive for the Tar Heels.
Arizona was considered one of the favorites to land Little, along with North Carolina, and Little acknowledged that the investigation played a small part in his decision to commit to the Tar Heels.
“The FBI had a little to do with it,” Little said. “After thinking about it, North Carolina was closer to home for me and in the ACC, you will be going against top teams every night and it is a really good conference. The guys from North Carolina, I’ve always watched North Carolina growing up, that’s been the team I’ve always watched so that comfortability was just a little different.”
Then there’s the topic of Augustine, the coach of 1 Family, Little’s AAU team. Little is obviously disappointed in the behavior of someone he trusted, but said that he can take lessons from the ordeal.
“He did a lot for me, so I have nothing negative to say,” Little said. “Just have to brush it off and move on, but it’s a lesson to keep your circle tight and be careful who you trust, so it’s a positive for me.”
It’s unclear to what extent the NCAA will be investigating the players involved in the scandal versus the programs, but Little could certainly face NCAA discipline if it is determined that he was personally involved in the scandal.
After the FBI dropped its reports and made its arrests, NCAA president Mark Emmert released a statement that focused on the coaches, and not the players. Efforts to seek clarification from the NCAA regarding this aspect by Tar Heels DieHards have not received a response.
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