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  1. #21
    You bring up some great points. But I thought the judge allowed the case to move forward; even though Zion’s legal team made defense. Question is did Zion and family count as NC residents and protected as such? I may have been wrong and perhaps he was considered a visiting student (he was only in NC for less than a year). If you read the language; It essentially requires that the contract have big bold statements effectively warning the student athlete that by signing they forfeit their eligibility; and they have 14 days to reconsider. Also one state’s laws aren’t portable to others; I believe this is being adjudicated in FL? Once Zion signed he forfeited his eligibility. Agents can act on behalf of clients for marketing deals, which is covered in the language cited. However this only pertains to licensed agents (they are bound by it). However anyone can sign a contract to provide any kind of service such as securing marketing deals without being a licensed agents. In California it’s not unusual for talent to have an licensed agent and an unlicensed manager — the management company can engage in any contract they want with what the client agrees to. It appears Zion signed with a non-licensed/non-agent business agreement. Which makes this contract such an unusual sketchy deal. Unfortunately Ford has her hooks in Zion. But I think people have to come to the realization the NC/agent angle so far isn’t stopping this and most likely won’t.

    At this point her lawyers are going to leverage Duke’s reputation. Zion and his family will be fine in the long run; Ford and her lawyers too. Hopefully Duke doesn’t take a hit.

  2. #22
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    This story made Tribune Entertainment Sports News in LA on KTLA channel 5.
    Could be an ugly case but hope their case goes up in flames like Michael Avenatti. Hope the family did not sign anything stupid. CAA will bring their best legal counsel.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZLA View Post
    You bring up some great points. But I thought the judge allowed the case to move forward; even though Zion’s legal team made defense. Question is did Zion and family count as NC residents and protected as such? I may have been wrong and perhaps he was considered a visiting student (he was only in NC for less than a year). If you read the language; It essentially requires that the contract have big bold statements effectively warning the student athlete that by signing they forfeit their eligibility; and they have 14 days to reconsider. Also one state’s laws aren’t portable to others; I believe this is being adjudicated in FL? Once Zion signed he forfeited his eligibility. Agents can act on behalf of clients for marketing deals, which is covered in the language cited. However this only pertains to licensed agents (they are bound by it). However anyone can sign a contract to provide any kind of service such as securing marketing deals without being a licensed agents. In California it’s not unusual for talent to have an licensed agent and an unlicensed manager — the management company can engage in any contract they want with what the client agrees to. It appears Zion signed with a non-licensed/non-agent business agreement. Which makes this contract such an unusual sketchy deal. Unfortunately Ford has her hooks in Zion. But I think people have to come to the realization the NC/agent angle so far isn’t stopping this and most likely won’t.

    At this point her lawyers are going to leverage Duke’s reputation. Zion and his family will be fine in the long run; Ford and her lawyers too. Hopefully Duke doesn’t take a hit.
    A few quick points to start. First, any person signing or trying to sign a "student athlete" to an "agency contract" is bound by the statute. She approached Zion in NC, and he signed in NC (as noted below, FL has the same law, so this point may be insignificant). One of the requirements to being able to legally sign a student athlete to an agency contract is being registering with the state. Failing to register doesn't mean you aren't bound by the statute. Rather, it means you have violated it (and possibly committed a felony), and the athlete can void the contract. Second, the question isn't whether Zion forfeited his eligibility by signing the contract; he did, probably (maybe debatable if the contract was never legal). The question is whether Zion had eligibility when Ford tried to get Zion to sign the contract. That is, at the moment before Zion put pen to paper on the contract, was he eligible? Officially, he was still eligible under NCAA rules because he still could have withdrawn from the draft and returned to school. Finally, it's hard to prevail on a case at motions stage. For motions to dismiss (based only on the Complaint), the court must assume all allegations in the Complaint to be true, and no evidence outside the pleadings can be considered. On a motion for summary judgment (based on the evidence), courts can only grant it if there is no genuine issue of material fact. In other words, if any factual questions exist that could affect the outcome of the case, then the court must deny the motion. I have no idea what motions have been filed, but the court allowing a case to proceed does not necessarily mean it has merit.

    I haven't followed the status of the cases since last summer because there's been scant news about them. But there were two lawsuits. Zion filed one in federal court in NC, and I think Ford filed suit in FL. I'm pretty sure Zion filed first, which can matter because it would be unusual for two lawsuits over the same issue to proceed in parallel in different jurisdictions. The earlier filed case would usually be allowed to proceed first, but it's possible the cases were consolidated in one or the other jurisdiction. The contract (attached to Zion's Complaint) does contain a choice of law provision that says it is governed by FL law, but that may not matter for two reasons: (1) if the contract is void as a matter of law under NC law, then it doesn't matter what the choice of law provision says because the contract has no legal effect to begin with and (2) both NC and FL have adopted the UAAA, so Ford has the same problems in both jurisdictions.

    From what I remember, the language between the two statutes isn't identical, but it's fundamentally the same. The definitions I quoted in my last post basically apply in both states. Also, if memory serves (it's been almost a year), I posted the relevant statutory provisions from both states in the original thread after I saw that both FL and NC adopted the UAAA.

    You are correct about the bolded eligibility statement that must be near the signature block (it's literally written out in both statutes). Zion's contract does not have it. If that language is missing, the contract is void as a matter of law under the statute, so it never had any legal effect to begin with. I'm not sure why this hasn't been more of a focus in the coverage because even if Ford were registered in NC or FL as a Player Agent, the contract still violates the statute. The other issue is that the agent must be registered with the state. My understanding is Ford was not registered in either FL or NC, but that's based on news reports from a year ago. If Ford was not registered, then Zion has the option to void the contract. I don't recall the 14-day deadline from either statute, but I haven't gone back to look, so that could be right.

    Another point that I haven't seen in any reporting is that the player's school must be given the contract for review. I've never heard that this happened, and I would be disappointed if it did because I have a hard time imagining that Duke's lawyers wouldn't have raised all these problems with it.

  4. #24
    The front page article doesn’t inspire confidence.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by lotusland View Post
    The front page article doesn’t inspire confidence.
    I agree. In the absence of specifics, I would have expressed more faith in Duke's robust compliance operation.

    Nevertheless, Zion is in a bit of a mess. He signed two contracts with overlapping commitments. If I recall correctly, and --heaven forfend, there has to be a first time -- the initial plan was that Zion's stepfather and an associate would represent Zion, but they did not have the requisite experience or credentials to meet NBA requirements. Gina Ford, if not a family friend, had personal contacts with the family. After signing with Ms. Ford's company, he was wooed and then signed with big-time Creative Artists Agency.

    Anyway, I predict that Zion will make a ton of money; CAA will earn a bundle; and Gina Ford will get lots of dough, probably, but not necessarily, through a handsome settlement.
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  6. #26
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    New Article on the Athletic

    The Athletic posted an article tonight about this whole thing. It is behind a paywall, but it talks about a number of interrogatories, which are different from the RFAs discussed earlier, that Ford propounded in the FL lawsuit. It's weird that RFAs and interrogatories came at the same time. The story goes over a lot of the background information, which I think this thread and the original thread already cover. There are some interesting new quotes, though (I hope it's okay to post selected excerpts from this story--The Athletic is worth it, fwiw):

    The first one confirms Ford's theory:
    These rather explosive questions factor in because the lawyers argue that if they can prove Williamson was paid before or during his tenure at Duke, he would be ineligible and thereby no longer a student-athlete. “It doesn’t matter when the contract is entered into. If you’re no longer a student-athlete, the rules of the NCAA no longer apply,’’ Ford’s attorney Larry Strauss said. “The nuance is that this does not just apply to him. Any third party that acted as an agent, his parent or handlers, all of their actions can also affect eligibility.’’
    Also, I think Ford's attorney confirmed that they don't actually have specific facts about any misconduct or improper benefits:
    The Athletic spoke to Ford’s lead attorney Willie Gary, of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, and when asked if he had such evidence, he did not answer directly. ”We have ideas, opinions and some leads of our own,’’ he said. “We are looking for information to support our case. This is what we want to know.’’ Gary added that some of their information is from “public hearing.’’ When asked if that included the federal investigation into basketball, he confirmed it was. Williamson’s name came up at one trial, when during a taped conversation with Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, Adidas rep Merl Code alleged Williamson’s family was looking for money and housing in exchange for a commitment.

    Lawyer Michael Avenatti later alleged Nike paid Williamson. Duke said it investigated those claims but found no proof. Avenatti later was convicted of attempting to extort Nike.
    SWEAT, GARY, SWEAT!

    One final interesting note about Ford's business activities:
    In August 2018 she created MAG Sports & Entertainment with two partners, Akin Ayodele, a former NFL player, and Munish Sood, a name that should be familiar. He was among the key players in the federal investigation into college basketball. In fact, 25 days after MAG was created, Sood pleaded guilty to federal bribery crimes and wire fraud conspiracy. (MAG was dissolved “with no business transacted,” according to Sood’s filing.)

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by JetpackJesus View Post
    The Athletic posted an article tonight about this whole thing. It is behind a paywall, but it talks about a number of interrogatories, which are different from the RFAs discussed earlier, that Ford propounded in the FL lawsuit. It's weird that RFAs and interrogatories came at the same time. The story goes over a lot of the background information, which I think this thread and the original thread already cover. There are some interesting new quotes, though (I hope it's okay to post selected excerpts from this story--The Athletic is worth it, fwiw):

    The first one confirms Ford's theory:


    Also, I think Ford's attorney confirmed that they don't actually have specific facts about any misconduct or improper benefits:

    SWEAT, GARY, SWEAT!

    One final interesting note about Ford's business activities:
    Yeah The Athletic article is WAY WAY better than the front page blog post (no shock there).

  8. #28
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    at this points, the allegations sound like those of Michael Avenatti: bombastic and unsupported by fact.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    at this points, the allegations sound like those of Michael Avenatti: bombastic and unsupported by fact.
    Totally agree. All types of nonsense are thrown into interrogatories - that's basically the point of them.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    Nevertheless, Zion is in a bit of a mess. He signed two contracts with overlapping commitments. If I recall correctly, and --heaven forfend, there has to be a first time -- the initial plan was that Zion's stepfather and an associate would represent Zion, but they did not have the requisite experience or credentials to meet NBA requirements. Gina Ford, if not a family friend, had personal contacts with the family. After signing with Ms. Ford's company, he was wooed and then signed with big-time Creative Artists Agency.
    One small caveat: from what I recall, the initial contract with Ford was for just representation with respect to advertising. Even if there were no problems with the Ford contract, Zion still would have needed to sign with someone else to be his sports agent--that is to negotiate with teams, navigate the draft process, and do whatever else a sports agent does. He chose to sign with CAA, a major sports agency. The only issue is that, in addition to offering comprehensive representation for an athlete, CAA also offers to represent it's athletes with respect to potential advertising. And CAA doesn't want to share it's client with Ford over a service that CAA also provides.

    Could both CAA and Ford have represented Zion at the same time? Yes, it seems plausible, depending on the language of the CAA contract. An athlete is certainly free to contract with multiple agents to provide different services. But for whatever reason, Zion would now prefer to be represented only by CAA with respect to advertising, and hence CAA/Zion are now arguing the contract with Ford was void because it did not comply with NC law. And Ford is counter-arguing that it did comply with NC law because Zion was not eligible as an NCAA athlete at the time, giving rise to the accusations now being widely reported (though again, Ford has offered not one iota of proof at this stage).

  11. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    Nevertheless, Zion is in a bit of a mess. He signed two contracts with overlapping commitments.
    Zion made a serious mistake and has plenty of money to resolve it. IMO, he should reach a settlement, for his mistake, in a timely manner.

  12. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    at this points, the allegations sound like those of Michael Avenatti: bombastic and unsupported by fact.
    This thread has a healthy mix of those accepting some reality and those burying their head in the sand. This falls into the latter category.
    As JD King framed it in his fine essay on the situation, there is money flowing all over the place for the upper echelon of AAU basketball talent. We get our fair share of these guys so just connect the dots. Plausible deniability? Perhaps. But just believing in “The Brotherhood” as the draw is a bit naive.
    Is every lawyer an Avenatti-like sleaze? No more than every coach is a Bill Self or Rick Pitino.

  13. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by BobBender View Post
    This thread has a healthy mix of those accepting some reality and those burying their head in the sand. This falls into the latter category.
    As JD King framed it in his fine essay on the situation, there is money flowing all over the place for the upper echelon of AAU basketball talent. We get our fair share of these guys so just connect the dots. Plausible deniability? Perhaps. But just believing in “The Brotherhood” as the draw is a bit naive.
    Is every lawyer an Avenatti-like sleaze? No more than every coach is a Bill Self or Rick Pitino.
    It's also healthy to be skeptical of allegations. I've read through several articles, including the one from The Athletic. The connections to Duke and the coaching staff are thin at best. Zion signed a contract after his parents were introduced to Ford and the latest incarnation of her marketing company. That contract was signed after the season ended. This appears to be an attempt by Ford to find something that would invalidate the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Code. Ford's lawyer admitted in the interview that they are basing the questions off of publicly available information, including the FBI proceedings. Those proceedings never implicated Duke.

    To me, this whole thing is a sensation because 1) it's Zion, and 2) it's Duke. I think it's reasonable to call the allegations a stretch, a tactic to secure what they think they can get from Zion. Heck, a guy that was following Zion around since middle school is suing Ford for a finder's fee of 5%. This reads a lot like a situation in which someone that was praying on Zion and his family was found out when he and his family was put in touch with an agency that really knew what it was doing.

    If your business was about signing contracts with people, you'd be hyper focused on ensuring that your contracts met state and federal statutes and laws, wouldn't you? How could Ford make such a mistake when it's her core business? It's rational to wonder what kind of character she is. She has signed Usain Bolt to a deal, yes. But her second-biggest client is not a professional athlete but that athlete's mother. There are a lot of questions about everyone involved, but I don't think it's burying my head in the sand to have the most questions directed at the plaintiff.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobBender View Post
    This thread has a healthy mix of those accepting some reality and those burying their head in the sand. This falls into the latter category.
    As JD King framed it in his fine essay on the situation, there is money flowing all over the place for the upper echelon of AAU basketball talent. We get our fair share of these guys so just connect the dots. Plausible deniability? Perhaps. But just believing in “The Brotherhood” as the draw is a bit naive.
    Is every lawyer an Avenatti-like sleaze? No more than every coach is a Bill Self or Rick Pitino.
    I'm glad you're not my lawyer I guess. Hey, I have no idea what really happened, but I do believe in seeing evidence before convicting someone. Your "connect the dots" take is as flimsy as it gets, at this point anyway.
    What you call "burying my head in the sand" is what I call wanting to see some convincing evidence.

    I'm certainly aware that college sports are awash with secret money. I have no evidence that Duke engages in this behavior.
    Last edited by budwom; 05-11-2020 at 10:32 AM.

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidBenAkiva View Post
    It's also healthy to be skeptical of allegations. I've read through several articles, including the one from The Athletic. The connections to Duke and the coaching staff are thin at best. Zion signed a contract after his parents were introduced to Ford and the latest incarnation of her marketing company. That contract was signed after the season ended. This appears to be an attempt by Ford to find something that would invalidate the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Code. Ford's lawyer admitted in the interview that they are basing the questions off of publicly available information, including the FBI proceedings. Those proceedings never implicated Duke.

    To me, this whole thing is a sensation because 1) it's Zion, and 2) it's Duke. I think it's reasonable to call the allegations a stretch, a tactic to secure what they think they can get from Zion. Heck, a guy that was following Zion around since middle school is suing Ford for a finder's fee of 5%. This reads a lot like a situation in which someone that was praying on Zion and his family was found out when he and his family was put in touch with an agency that really knew what it was doing.

    If your business was about signing contracts with people, you'd be hyper focused on ensuring that your contracts met state and federal statutes and laws, wouldn't you? How could Ford make such a mistake when it's her core business? It's rational to wonder what kind of character she is. She has signed Usain Bolt to a deal, yes. But her second-biggest client is not a professional athlete but that athlete's mother. There are a lot of questions about everyone involved, but I don't think it's burying my head in the sand to have the most questions directed at the plaintiff.
    Which brings me to my next question. If this lady and her agency is so incompetent, and lacking of major talent, why on earth would someone with the talent and earning potential of a Zion Williamson, sign with her? Zion was in touch with some of the biggest names in the game, was being coached by a staff that has been through the guidance of future stars time and time again. There was very little doubt Zion would go #1 or #2 in the draft. Why would he sign with ACME athletic agency?

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobBender View Post
    This thread has a healthy mix of those accepting some reality and those burying their head in the sand. This falls into the latter category.
    As JD King framed it in his fine essay on the situation, there is money flowing all over the place for the upper echelon of AAU basketball talent. We get our fair share of these guys so just connect the dots. Plausible deniability? Perhaps. But just believing in “The Brotherhood” as the draw is a bit naive.
    Is every lawyer an Avenatti-like sleaze? No more than every coach is a Bill Self or Rick Pitino.
    I think there is a good basis for being skeptical of the "sorta" allegations from Gina Ford and her attorneys.

    Here is what Gina Ford's attorney Willie Gary said, per The Athletic and JetPackJesus;:

    The Athletic spoke to Ford’s lead attorney Willie Gary, of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, and when asked if he had such evidence, he did not answer directly. ”We have ideas, opinions and some leads of our own,’’ he said. “We are looking for information to support our case. This is what we want to know.’’ Gary added that some of their information is from “public hearing.’’ When asked if that included the federal investigation into basketball, he confirmed it was. Williamson’s name came up at one trial, when during a taped conversation with Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, Adidas rep Merl Code alleged Williamson’s family was looking for money and housing in exchange for a commitment.
    And, while these are reasonable questions to ask in pursing Gina Ford's case, they're on a fishing expedition. The reference to "public hearing" refers to other matters not involving Duke or Zion -- as in, "other people are doing it."

    Duke pays K a gazillion dollars a year to coach basketball and NOT break NCAA rules. I expect he didn't.
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  17. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by left_hook_lacey View Post
    Which brings me to my next question. If this lady and her agency is so incompetent, and lacking of major talent, why on earth would someone with the talent and earning potential of a Zion Williamson, sign with her? Zion was in touch with some of the biggest names in the game, was being coached by a staff that has been through the guidance of future stars time and time again. There was very little doubt Zion would go #1 or #2 in the draft. Why would he sign with ACME athletic agency?
    It's hard to take your question seriously. To start, Ford's agency is not a sports agency. It's an advertising and marketing agency. Second, is it all that hard to see how an 18 year-old kid and his parents could be swindled by someone looking to make a buck off of the teenager? It's not like Zion or his parents are seasoned veterans of contract law.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    I think there is a good basis for being skeptical of the "sorta" allegations from Gina Ford and her attorneys.

    Here is what Gina Ford's attorney Willie Gary said, per The Athletic and JetPackJesus;:



    And, while these are reasonable questions to ask in pursing Gina Ford's case, they're on a fishing expedition. The reference to "public hearing" refers to other matters not involving Duke or Zion -- as in, "other people are doing it."

    Duke pays K a gazillion dollars a year to coach basketball and NOT break NCAA rules. I expect he didn't.
    The same can be said for Pitino, Self, Calipari, etc. And a lot of these coaches still break the rules. Not saying Coach K did, but I just don't buy that argument.

    I haven't read enough on this subject to comment what Duke's role is. But, as both a cynic and a capitalist, there is no doubt in my mind Zion/Zion's family got some sort of unethical payment. I think this on all top 5 - maybe even top 10 - players. And it makes sense; the median household income in the US is between $60-65K. A lot of these families make less - or even a lot less - then that. $60-65K is nothing when you're trying to raise a family. So if someone is going to offer you $100K+, you take it. I think there are exceptions, like Adrian Griffin Jr, who's dad made millions in the NBA and is the top assistant coach for the reigning NBA champs. But for every Adrian Griffin Jr, there are dozens of players who fall below that median household income line.
    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. - Winston Churchill

    President of the "Nolan Smith Should Have His Jersey in The Rafters" Club

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyingdutchdevil View Post
    The same can be said for Pitino, Self, Calipari, etc. And a lot of these coaches still break the rules. Not saying Coach K did, but I just don't buy that argument.

    I haven't read enough on this subject to comment what Duke's role is. But, as both a cynic and a capitalist, there is no doubt in my mind Zion/Zion's family got some sort of unethical payment. I think this on all top 5 - maybe even top 10 - players. And it makes sense; the median household income in the US is between $60-65K. A lot of these families make less - or even a lot less - then that. $60-65K is nothing when you're trying to raise a family. So if someone is going to offer you $100K+, you take it. I think there are exceptions, like Adrian Griffin Jr, who's dad made millions in the NBA and is the top assistant coach for the reigning NBA champs. But for every Adrian Griffin Jr, there are dozens of players who fall below that median household income line.
    I can't read "the doubt in your mind," but I disagree. Zion's family could easily borrow money until his professional earnings began. Duke gives families a lot of advice on such matters. And BTW doesn't North Carolina law make these criminal matters?
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  20. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    I agree. In the absence of specifics, I would have expressed more faith in Duke's robust compliance operation.

    Nevertheless, Zion is in a bit of a mess. He signed two contracts with overlapping commitments. If I recall correctly, and --heaven forfend, there has to be a first time -- the initial plan was that Zion's stepfather and an associate would represent Zion, but they did not have the requisite experience or credentials to meet NBA requirements. Gina Ford, if not a family friend, had personal contacts with the family. After signing with Ms. Ford's company, he was wooed and then signed with big-time Creative Artists Agency.

    Anyway, I predict that Zion will make a ton of money; CAA will earn a bundle; and Gina Ford will get lots of dough, probably, but not necessarily, through a handsome settlement.
    Sage, you are correct. Here is an article from ESPN, which was written from the angle of his potential shoe deal and the fact that it was surprising that his deal came later than most expected. But in the article, it details how Chubby Wells, a former Clemson teammate of Lee Anderson's, was originally going to be Zion's sports agent. But he had let his certification expire, and he failed the re-certification exam and couldn't re-take it for a year. Which is what ultimately led Zion to CAA.

    https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/...-sneaker-chase

    I remember reading speculation last summer that, along with Wells' sports representation, the original plan must have been for someone else to handle Zion's marketing/endorsement deals. Though how Gina Ford came into the picture (got her hooks into Zion) is anyone's guess.

    But apparently she started aggressively pursuing Zion as early as January, including attending at least 2 games in Cameron and approaching the family before and after the games, even though she was repeatedly asked not to. According to this article, she also grossly inflated her experience and resume, and misled him about the consequences of signing that contract in April, and what effect it would have on his eligibility.

    https://www.nola.com/sports/pelicans...523ac8bec.html

    I would agree with Zion's lawyers that her behavior, as reported, sounds predatory, and I hope that there are laws on the books to protect college players from this sort of pursuit.

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