Former South Carolina basketball star Sindarius Thornwell said Wednesday he has kept his distance from the embattled coach who recruited him to the Gamecocks.
Lamont Evans, a USC assistant from 2012-16, is scheduled to appear in a New York City courtroom on Thursday for his role in the bribery scandal that’s rocked college basketball. Evans surrendered to federal marshals on Sept. 27 on federal corruption charges following an investigation by the FBI. Court documents allege Evans took at least $22,000 in bribes to direct basketball players to agents or financial advisers while at South Carolina and Oklahoma State.
Evans was instrumental in recruiting both Thornwell and P.J. Dozier, the guard duo that headlined the Gamecocks’ run to the Final Four last spring.
“I just don’t speak about it,” Thornwell said by phone Wednesday. “(Evans) has nothing to do with me. I just stay clear of it.”
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Evans, who left USC for Oklahoma State in April 2016, was fired by the Cowboys on Sept. 28.
Court documents allege two unnamed South Carolina players were among the subjects of Evans’ dealings.
During a news conference last week, USC coach Frank Martin stressed that only Evans is under investigation.
“Everything you know about the investigation, I know,” Martin told reporters. “This university is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated. Frank Martin is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated. Our basketball team is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated.”
The University of South Carolina, Martin and other members of the program were never explicitly mentioned in any court documents filed by the FBI, but filings do describe a “University-2” where Evans worked from 2012 to 2016 as “a public research university located in South Carolina. With over approximately 30,000 students, it is one of South Carolina’s largest universities.” The records also mentioned a “Player-3” at South Carolina who was considered a first-round draft pick in 2017 and whom Evans promised to steer toward a financial adviser.
Martin said he did not know who “Player-3” is.
“We haven’t been told,” who the player is, Martin said. “As they’re going through their investigation, I’m sure they’re doing their due diligence, and because we’re not part of it, we’re not privy to that information. I’m sure we’ll find that out sometime in the near future.”
Thornwell, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, was selected in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft (48th overall). He’s played in the Los Angeles Clippers’ first three preseason games, scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds against Portland on Sunday.
His rookie season in the NBA comes five years after Evans recruited him out of Lancaster High School and Oak Hill Academy.
Former South Carolina assistant Matt Figger told CBS Sports in April that Evans “did the heavy lifting on Sindarius.”
Thornwell on Wednesday said he’s tried to stay away from the news surrounding his former coach.
“I wish the best for him,” Thornwell said of Evans, “but I don’t really know.”