NCAA investigating former Kentucky player Eric Bledsoe

Per the NY Times

Two years ago, Eric Bledsoe was a star point guard without the grades to meet the N.C.A.A.’s minimum standards and needing to find a new high school. He solved both problems by moving to A. H. Parker High School and now, after one season at the University of Kentucky, he is awaiting a lucrative payday in next month’s N.B.A. draft.

The changes in Bledsoe’s academic and athletic prospects have attracted the attention of the N.C.A.A., which has sent investigators to at least three places in Alabama to ask about him. The N.C.A.A. does not talk about its investigations, and the scope of this one is unknown.

The report goes on to discuss interviews with people in Bledsoe’s life that may reveal potential violations:

Brenda Axle, the landlord for the house where Bledsoe and his mother moved for his senior year of high school, said that Bledsoe’s high school coach [Maurice Ford] paid her at least three months’ rent, or $1,200.

A copy of Bledsoe’s high school transcript from his first three years reveals that it would have taken an improbable academic makeover — a jump from about a 1.9 grade point average in core courses to just under a 2.5 during his senior year — for Bledsoe to achieve minimum N.C.A.A. standards to qualify for a scholarship.

A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother.

Uh-oh. If the coach’s assertions are true, and Ford did indeed demand money to “let Bledsoe sign with the university,” and Bledsoe eventually signed with John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats…well, then, you can connect the dots.

Trouble just follows Calipari around. I’m starting to think that it’s partly due to the kind of player he recruits. Calipari clearly doesn’t care about academics, so sometimes shady things go on to get his recruits eligible to play. In Bledsoe’s case, his GPA shot up after enrolling at A.H. Parker High School. Of course, this comes on the heels of the NCAA vacating Memphis’s trip to the 2008 Final Four because someone else actually took Derrick Rose’s SAT test during his senior year of high school.

This is party the NBA’s fault. The league’s age-limit rule forces kids that have no business going to college to enroll for a season, and that can lead to all sorts of shenanigans in trying to get a player eligible. We’re talking about a handful of players every year, but Rose and Bledsoe fall into that category. Both players would have been NBA draftees had they turned pro straight out of high school.

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John Wall picks Kentucky

After a long dance, top high school recruit John Wall is headed to Kentucky to play for John Calipari.

Wall, ranked the No. 1 point guard, No. 5 overall, on the ESPNU 100, informed Miami coach Frank Haith Tuesday morning that he had committed to Kentucky. The reasoning, according to a source, was because he just wanted to play for Calipari.

If Calipari had stayed as coach at Memphis, there would have been no drama in Wall’s commitment. Privately, Calipari was convinced Wall would have chosen the Tigers, but the coach’s departure to Kentucky created a soap opera in the renewed recruiting chase.

Wall teased Duke, and actually gave Miami an informal commitment last week, according to a source close to the situation. But ultimately, the Word of God Christian Academy playmaker out of Raleigh, N.C., didn’t stray from his original plan: He chose to play for Calipari, except the pursuit for a national title will be out of Lexington instead of Memphis.

According to sources, this had been an issue for Wall’s adviser, Brian Clifton, who likely will be the one to represent Wall when the player eventually declares for the NBA draft.

A source close to the situation at Duke said multiple times that if Clifton were making the call, Duke would have been selected. But Wall, according to sources, made the decision.

Dajuan Wagner, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans…It’s clear that Wall sees Calipari as a conduit to the NBA, not that he’d have much problem becoming a lottery pick at Duke or Miami. It will be interesting to see how Calipari uses both Wall and Eric Bledsoe, who also recently committed to Kentucky.

Eric Bledsoe headed to Kentucky; Wall next?

Top point guard recruit Eric Bledsoe is going to play for John Calipari at the University of Kentucky.

Bledsoe had narrowed his choices to Memphis and Kentucky last week and visited both schools over the weekend before making up his mind.

The Tigers were hoping that Bledsoe, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 3 point guard by, would fill their hole in the backcourt next season. Instead, Bledsoe chose to play for former Memphis coach John Calipari, despite the possibility of sharing the position with top-ranked point guard John Wall, who is also favoring the Wildcats.

Bledsoe said today that Calipari told him that he “can come in right off the bat and start.”

Memphis promoted Josh Pastner to head coach because of his reputation as a recruiter, but he lost out on this one. It will be interesting to see where John Wall is headed because the general consensus is that he favors Kentucky as well. Will he and Bledsoe share the same backcourt?

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