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Georgia Tech Alleged to Offer $250K to Recruit

So where are the holier than thou sports pundits?

Hewitt denies book's charge of $250,000 offer to recruit

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/08/05

Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt, responding to a new book about former New York City high school phenom Sebastian Telfair, denies any knowledge of a $250,000 payment offered to Telfair to attend Tech.

In "The Jump," written by suburban New York newspaper columnist Ian O'Connor, Telfair says he got a $250,000 offer while attending a college basketball game, and a person close to Telfair says the man making the offer claimed to represent the interests of Georgia Tech. Telfair identifies the man only as middle-aged and white and does not identify the school. Telfair's brother and best friend both say Telfair attended a Tech game.

"He was never here," Hewitt said. "If he were at a game, he bought his own ticket. If it was [at Alexander Memorial Coliseum], he could not have bought a ticket because tickets were sold out. If it was at Philips Arena, he wasn't on our [guest] list.

"If some mysterious man who fits no description, or the very generic old white guy description, walked up to him and offered him $250,000, he didn't represent Georgia Tech or its athletic interests."

Telfair, the cousin of former Tech point guard Stephon Marbury, was drafted 13th overall in June by Portland. He originally committed to play at Louisville and, Hewitt said, never took a recruiting visit to Tech.

O'Connor, who followed Telfair for a year, said Wednesday he's "a very believable kid." He also said the person who identified Tech -- "someone very close" to Telfair -- was credible.

"In the culture we're in right now, we just had a booster convicted of paying $150,000 for a defensive tackle," O'Connor said, referring to the case of Alabama booster Logan Young. "I don't think it's out of the question that someone approached Sebastian."

Hewitt said Tech did show interest in Telfair his junior year. Hewitt met Telfair while recruiting his Lincoln High teammate, Elliah "Karron" Clark. When former Tech player Clarence Moore sat out the 2002-03 season, making a scholarship available, Hewitt said he went after Clark and visited the player in Brooklyn, N.Y. Clark went to prep school at The Winchendon School and later signed with Miami.

It was on that visit, Hewitt said, that he met Telfair, then a sophomore, in the school's athletics department office. He saw Telfair play in the New York City Public School Athletic League playoffs that year at Madison Square Garden. Tech assistant Willie Reese continued the dialogue from that point on with Lincoln coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton, and Reese also contacted Marbury.

"Willie asked me to go up and see him, but I felt all along that the kid was so talented, that he was going to go pro," Hewitt said. "I wasn't going to go up there and see him because I didn't think there was any chance that he'd show up in college."

In the book, Hewitt rejects the idea that Telfair could have attended a Tech game without Hewitt's knowledge.

"There's no way Telfair came to a game on our campus and didn't come into our locker room," Hewitt said. "If that happened, one of my assistants would've been fired. If he came to one of our games, it was an Elvis-like appearance. If he was down here, I didn't know it. I think somebody's trying to sex up the story."

Hewitt said this week that he does know Telfair's brother, Jamel Thomas, who played at Providence, but said he has never spoken to Thomas about Telfair, a 6-foot point guard who surpassed Kenny Anderson as New York state's all-time leading preps scorer.

"The only person related to, or remotely related to Sebastian that we spoke to was Willie speaking to Stephon," Hewitt said. "I think it's something that makes good copy. I'm disappointed, but what are you going to do?"

What were the Atlanta based sports pundits saying about OSU?