Andrew Jones and his family arrived at the University of Louisville for their official recruiting visit on Friday, right as news broke that an upcoming book was filled with major allegations against the U of L basketball program.
U of L coach Rick Pitino ended Friday’s practice early to meet with reporters and discuss the claims in the book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” which alleges that Louisville’s former director of basketball operations, Andre McGee, paid an escort thousands of dollars and gave her and other escorts, including her three teenage daughters, game tickets in exchange for sex with players and recruits.
McGee, through his lawyer, Scott C. Cox, acknowledged that he knows escort Katina Powell but denied the claims in her book.
Louisville’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, flew back from the school’s football game at NC State in Raleigh to meet with the visiting recruits. Jones, a four-star class of 2016 guard from Texas, was one of four prospects on U of L’s campus this past weekend. Five-star 2016 forward T.J. Leaf and his family were also in town, along with blue-chip 2017 prospects D.J. Harvey and Davion Mitchell.
“They were pretty good about it,” said David Jones, Andrew’s dad who accompanied his son on the visit along with his wife. “I know it hit the fan when we got there. They came to us and they told us what was going on.”
The elder Jones said Pitino spoke to them twice about the book’s allegations – once on Friday and again on Sunday morning before the family left.
“I did some more research on it, but hey, I don’t know what to say,” Jones said. “When stuff like that goes on, when you’ve got a person writing books, you’ve got to read between the lines real good and you have to make sure what she’s saying is true. You have to make sure that she’s not just making more of what it really was.”
Andrew Jones, who is the No. 30 prospect in the nation on Scout.com, is a 6-foot-4 point guard who shot up the national recruiting rankings after a breakout summer on the AAU circuit. The family watched practice on Friday, ate lunch with the team on Saturday and took in the Red-White intrasquad scrimmage at the KFC Yum! Center.
David Jones said his son was “impressed” by the Red-White game “and the crowd and the atmosphere.”
“He liked that. I did too,” Jones said. “I thought that was great to have that many people at a Red-White game. You don’t see that. They played hard. It was good entertainment. I know he liked it. I like the coaching staff. I know the staff. They did well.”
The thing Jones appreciated the most, he said, was that U of L’s coaching staff didn’t “put on a show.”
“This wasn’t no put-on. They were themselves,” Jones said. “Rick Pitino was great. I thought he was great. There’s nothing that I can say that was phony about the program at all. I thought everything was set up perfect. A lot of times everybody wants to put on and show their best, and you don’t get to see the real deal. They went about their business as if it was an ordinary day.”
Leaf’s father, Brad, told InsideTheVille.com, a U of L recruiting site affiliated with 247Sports, that his son, a 6-9 scorer from suburban San Diego, “had a great time” on his visit to Louisville. Leaf’s mother grew up in Evansville, Ind., where his grandparents and other extended family still live, and his dad grew up in Indianapolis.
The weekend visit was a bit of a homecoming for the Leafs, who had extended family members join them to watch the Red-White scrimmage, and Brad Leaf viewed their presence on campus during Friday’s breaking news as a positive.
“I think the timing was actually pretty good, because if we didn’t come we would hear all hearsay,” Brad Leaf told InsideTheVille. “We got to hear exactly what was going on, got to meet the players and the staff. So, to us, it was a positive because we got to see everything.
“We’re moving forward with Louisville right there with everybody else, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Leaf still has two more official visits – Oregon this weekend and UCLA on Oct. 30. His dad told InsideTheVille that they canceled their official visit to Kansas.
As for Jones, he doesn’t plan to make his college choice until late December or early January, his dad said. They have already taken an official visit to Arizona and several unofficial visits to Baylor, SMU and Texas.
Jones and his family would still like to visit Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State in the future, his dad said. The Joneses, who are from Irving, live near SMU, which is in Dallas, and have seen the school so much that they don’t need an official visit there, his dad said.
Once they’ve gone through that process, his dad said, Andrew will start working on a decision.
As for the allegations against U of L and the ongoing investigation into them?
“We’re not making decisions based on that,” David Jones said.