LSU guard Javonte Smart won't play vs Vanderbilt
BATON ROUGE - LSU freshman guard Javonte Smart will not play Saturday against Vanderbilt the university's athletics department announced Saturday.
Smart's name has been tied to the alleged involvement in a pay-for-play scandal that is being investigated by the FBI. However, the university said the decision to bench Smart is not meant to suggest any wrongdoing on the player's part, adding that it was only done "in an abundance of caution."
On Friday, the LSU administration suspended head coach Will Wade indefinitely after refusing to meet with LSU administrators to discuss the allegations.
According to a Yahoo! report, FBI wire-taps captured phone conversations between Will Wade and middleman Christian Dawkins talking about "taking care of" a player and his family. Wade reportedly referred to the player only as "Smart" in the conversations.
Smart is fourth on the team in scoring averaging 11.5 points per game. He is also third on the team in minutes per game behind only Skylar Mays and Tremont Waters.
Below is part of the transcript ESPN and Yahoo detailed regarding Will Wade and Dawkins wiretapped conversation.
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”
The specifics of the “Smart thing” are unknown. Smart was a top-50 recruit coming out of Scotlandville High School and was also heavy on the radar of blue blood programs like Kentucky.
“Dude,” Wade continued in the call, referring to the third party involved in the recruitment. “I went to him with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong.
“The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now. It was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit,” Wade continued. “It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”
Javonte Smart will not play tonight. LSU will now be without its coach and one of its top players tonight against a Vandy team that is winless in league play. https://t.co/NBHyIKhzLA— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 9, 2019\
LSU athletics released the following statement:
Javonte Smart will be held from today’s game against Vanderbilt. This is done only in an abundance of caution and as a result of the lack of clarity provided regarding media reports and reported wiretaps involving Head Coach Will Wade. This decision does not suggest, in any way, wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing on Javonte’s part or his family. Javonte and his family have been fully cooperative and open with university officials. The decision to hold Javonte from today’s game is a difficult and disappointing one for everyone involved. Javonte is a valuable member of the team, the university and the LSU family. The university and NCAA continue to review the matter in order to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.