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Attorney Michael Avenatti indicates UNLV improperly recruited Brandon McCoy

Updated March 26, 2019 - 11:18 pm

Noted defense attorney Michael Avenatti insinuated Tuesday night that UNLV used unscrupulous methods to land prized basketball recruit Brandon McCoy two years ago.

“What’s the real reason McCoy — a 5 star recruit — went to struggling UNLV?” Avenatti tweeted. “What does Shaun Manning, his ‘guardian,’ know about it?”

Avenatti is claiming corporate shoemaker Nike has funneled “large sums” of money to elite student-athletes bound for top colleges. Also mentioned Tuesday was former Findlay Prep star Bol Bol, who went to Oregon.

The McCoy tweet included a link to an April 2017 story by the San Diego Union-Tribune on the player committing to the Rebels. McCoy described Manning, a significant figure in San Diego’s AAU scene, as “like an uncle to me” in the story.

McCoy was the gem of UNLV’s 2017 recruiting class, which was ranked by 247Sports first in the Mountain West and 12th nationally. ESPN ranked McCoy, a McDonald’s All-American, the nation’s 15th-best player, and was seen as a key for then second-year coach Marvin Menzies reviving theprogram.

McCoy answered his phone when reached Tuesday night, but hung up. An attempt to reach Manning, who was McCoy’s guardian in San Diego, was unsuccessful.

UNLV said in an athletic department statement, “We are aware of the Tweet that references a former UNLV student-athlete. We have no reason to believe the insinuation has merit. Following protocol, we have notified our compliance office and they are doing their due diligence.”

Avenatti, who gained national fame last year by representing porn star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, has been charged by federal prosecutors with extortion as well as bank and wire fraud. He is accused of trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike by threatening to make public corruption allegations against the sports shoe and apparel company.

The federal complaint stated Avenatti’s client coaches a California-based AAU team, which Nike paid about $72,000 per year to that program. ESPN reported the client as California Supreme coach Gary Franklin.

McCoy played for California Supreme, as did NBA players Deandre Ayton and De’Anthony Melton. Ayton played collegiately at Arizona and Melton at Southern California. Oregon’s Bol and UCLA’s Shareef O’Neal also played for the Supreme.

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Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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