Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti has had an eventful 24 hours. On Monday, March 25, he was arrested in Manhattan for attempting to extort $20 million from Nike. He was also hit with multiple federal charges for bank and wire fraud in California. Despite that, Avenatti is doubling-down on his allegations against the sportswear giant.
On Tuesday, March 26, Avenatti once again took to Twitter and this time he was ready to name names. Specifically, the former Stormy Daniels attorney named current Phoenix Suns center and former Arizona Wildcats star DeAndre Ayton, and Oregon Ducks center Bol Bol as players who received payments from Nike. He also claims that Nike is not being cooperative with the investigation and are withholding evidence from it.
Avenatti’s evidence comes from his client Gary Franklin, a former Amateur Athletic Union(AAU) coach that was just recently let go by Nike.
Franklin was the coach for the AAU team California Supreme, the AAU team of both Ayton and Bol. The latter has missed most of his freshman season due to injury, but Bol is still a projected lottery pick in the upcoming 2019 draft. Ayton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft after a dominant freshman season at Arizona.
This is not the first mention of Bol, a Bahamas native, being involved in a payment scheme as his name came up in the adidas trial in October. Adidas “bag man” TJ Gassonola claimed to have paid Ayton’s family friend $15,000 when he was a junior in high school. Ayton did not sign with either Adidas or Nike after entering the NBA draft as he signed with German-based Puma.
Ayton and Bol may be the highest draft picks associated with California Supreme, but they are not the only two notable alumni for the AAU team. Shaq’s son Shareef O’Neal and former UNLV center Brandon McCoy also played for California Supreme. Ayton, Bol, and McCoy all played in the McDonald’s All-American Game, while O’Neal was considered the biggest snub of the 2018 game.
The Nike-Avenatti saga is just starting, which means more information will come to light over the next couple of days.