BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- LSU coach Will Wade said Wednesday that he has never "done business" with Christian Dawkins, who is accused of offering inducements to steer players to certain schools.
Wade's comments came less than 24 hours after lawyers for the defendants in the college basketball corruption trial in New York tried to admit evidence to show the LSU coach was prepared to offer illicit benefits for the services of 2019 recruit Balsa Koprivica, ranked No. 42 in his class by ESPN, if Dawkins could guarantee the 7-footer would sign with the Tigers.
"It was a little bit surprising," Wade, speaking at SEC media day, said about the testimony from New York. "I'm not really gonna react to what the defense attorney said. I will say I'm very proud of everything I've done as LSU's head coach. ... I or we have never, ever done business of any kind with Christian Dawkins. That's what I'll say about that."
On Tuesday, Casey Donnelly, one of Adidas executive Jim Gatto's attorneys in the trial, tried to introduce a wiretap recording of a telephone call between Wade and Dawkins, a former runner for NBA agent Andy Miller.
Donnelly did not provide a date of the call, but the FBI monitored one of Dawkins' cellphones between June 19, 2017, and Sept. 15, 2017, according to court records.
According to the transcript that Donnelly read, Dawkins called Wade and inquired about LSU's interest in Koprivica, who attends Montverde Academy in Florida.
"So you said to me in Atlanta there was a 2019 kid I wanted to recruit, they can get him to LSU, you would have funded," Dawkins told Wade, according to Donnelly. "Would you want Balsa?"
"Oh, the big kid?" Wade asked.
"Yeah," Dawkins confirmed.
"OK. But there's other [expletive] involved in it," Wade said. "I have got to shut my door. ... Here's my thing: I can get you what you need, but it's got to work."
On June 21, 2017, Koprivica tweeted: "Blessed to say I have received an offer from LSU."
Koprivica, the son of former Serbian pro player Slavisa Koprivica, was born in Belgrade and moved to the United States with his mother in 2015. He had been considering Gonzaga, Baylor and Florida State, among other schools. Sources told ESPN that Koprivica might sit out the 2019 season after graduating from high school and then enter the 2020 NBA draft.
When Wade was asked if "business" meant he had not had the conversation with Dawkins that Donnelly mentioned, he referred to his previous response.
When asked if that meant he would refuse to say yes or no to questions about whether the conversation took place, Wade again said he'd "addressed that in my statement."
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva issued a statement in support of Wade.
"We are, of course, aware of information presented in court yesterday and widely reported in the media," it read. "At the moment, that information is a snipped of a conversation in an active federal case. We stand ready, as always, to work with the NCAA on this and all matters in our constant effort to ensure compliance in all athletic programs. We are and will continue to be an athletic department committed to integrity and excellence.
"I believe Will Wade is building a program marked by those characteristics even as he leads this team through tragedy. He is a smart and driven coach who works as hard as anyone in college athletics. I am excited to see where he leads this program for years to come."
Wade will enter this season with a roster that's capable of competing for the SEC title. Tremont Waters, a potential All-American, will play with a talented recruiting class on this year's team.
The program is still mourning the loss of Wayde Sims, a reserve who was killed last month.