The Dirty Business Of Basketball Recruiting Of Foreign Players

Greg Arias

It's no surprise that recruiting in college basketball is a dirty business and likely has been for a long time, but there are parts that some people are unaware exist.

No less than three NCAA D-I basketball programs, and possibly more are currently in the center of ongoing investigations by either the NCAA or the federal government for issues involving recruiting. 

Kansas, Arizona, and LSU are all likely to face the NCAA soon, and some could also face jail time depending on the outcomes of those federal investigations. 

However, there is now new information that comes from a recent 60 Minutes year-long look into the recruitment of international players, mostly those from Africa, who are being brought to this country, sometimes under false pretenses and some illegally by handlers and would-be agents because of their basketball abilities. 

One such individual became a household name in recent years, not only because of his height but because of his athletic ability and basketball talent. 

Tacko Fall. At 7'5" the native of Senegal is one of the tallest human beings on the planet. With an irresistible personality to match his irresistible name, he has a celebrity force field—and Instagram following—to compete with any All-Star. Tacko may toggle between the Celtics and their minor league team in Portland, Maine, but he wins fans wherever he goes and was even used as a prop by Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, who leaped over Fall, at February’s NBA slam dunk contest.

Fall starred for the University of Central Florida where he became known nationally and has earned a large fanbase. 

While I can't share the entire story here when you listen to Fall speak in the 60 Minutes interviews you immediately recognize his intelligence, personality, and charm, but the story he has to tell of his path to this country and basketball stardom is troubling.

Fall is not alone in this either, as there are others who have been brought here by "handlers" whose only interest in these young men is the financial profits they can make from the athletic abilities of these kids. 

Make no mistake here, not every foreign athlete who comes here and plays college basketball has been part of this. There are many schools that have foreign students who are here without being part of these vultures who use and exploit these athletes. That should be made abundantly clear so there are no implications toward anyone or any university not named in this investigation.

It's a sad situation how these young men are being exploited, and while they do find a better life here in most cases, still the people who take advantage of this are often times breaking laws in the pursuit of easy money.

It's a story worth telling, and one worth watching. 

A 60 Minutes report, "The African Basketball Trail" will air Sunday, March 29, 2020, on CBS at 7 p.m. ET and PT.

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or on Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven

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