USC Basketball: De’Anthony Melton “never received a penny” per testimony

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /

Former USC basketball player De’Anthony Melton “never received a penny,” a according to the man at the heart of the FBI college basketball probe.

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De’Anthony Melton was held out of action during his sophomore year with USC basketball…for nothing.

That’s at least what Christian Dawkins, the aspiring sports manager who is facing bribery charges for allegedly paying college coaches and players to influence them to become future clients, testified to on Wednesday in federal court.

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Nathan Fenno of the LA Times outlined the juiciest details of the testimony, including wire taps which may point to involvement from Arizona head coach Sean Miller in the scheme.

From a USC perspective, the most interesting nugget came out of Dawkins’ testimony concerning Melton and Tony Bland, the former USC assistant who pled guilty to taking a bribe in order to influence Trojan players towards particular advisers.

"Dawkins said he pocketed an envelope of cash provided by an undercover FBI agent posing as an investor and intended as a bribe for an associate of former USC player De’Anthony Melton in August 2017. The Times previously reported that surveillance footage of the meeting at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport and bank records showed Dawkins kept the money, contradicting the government’s account. “No, he never received a penny,” Dawkins said of Melton."

For never receiving a penny, Melton was indefinitely suspended by USC for the 2017-18 season.

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Though an investigation by the university never actually found Melton to have committed wrongdoing, it was decided out of an abundance of caution that he would not be allowed to play for the Trojans for the rest of the season because of the potential receipt of benefits by a close family friend.

Without Melton, USC went 24-12 but were one of the last teams left out of the NCAA tournament. There’s no doubt he would have made a major difference to the team had he played, almost certainly ensuring the bid the Trojans didn’t receive.

By sitting out, Melton also missed out on the opportunity to boost his NBA draft stock.

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As a freshman, Melton averaged 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, a stat line not achieved in college basketball in Year 1 since Dwayne Wade.

Another exceptional season at USC could have vaulted Melton into the first round. As it was, he was selected by the Houston Rockets in the second round. The Rockets later traded him to the Phoenix Suns, where he showed promise as a defender as a rookie.

Dawkins also testified that he pocketed most of the $13,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent intended for Bland, who actually collected between $1,000 and $2,000 to spend at a bachelor party.