The Wall/Clifton Connect

Recently, I pondered whether it is ethical for a university to hire an AAU coach when that coach is known for advising one of the top upcoming players in the country.  It was based on Baylor University announcing the hiring of Dwon Clifton, the former head coach of D-One Sports (AAU powerhouse).  He has had premier access to John Wall, one of the most recruited and promising youngster in the United States.  Now there is a new, interesting twist to the Clifton/Wall connection; however, this one deals with Dwon’s brother, Brian Clifton.

Brian has been on the bench along with Dwon, coaching John Wall to become one of the top prospects in the country.  Four months ago, he was a licensed sports agent. In the post mentioned at the beginning of this topic, I also thought about how ethical it would be for a sports agency to bring on an AAU coach to help recruiting efforts.  But what about a sports agent becoming an AAU coach?

Gary Parrish of says no can do:

The NCAA’s newly implemented online coaches approval program…features the following question:

Are you a licensed sports agent, runner/recruiter or representative/agent/employee of a sports agency?

Answer “Yes” to that question and you are automatically ineligible to be on the sideline for a summer league/AAU team. There is no gray area. So the only way for Clifton to honestly answer “No” was to withdraw his license, and doing that allowed him to spend the entire summer coaching prospects — just like he did in the summer of 2007, when he still was a licensed agent — and nurturing a relationship with the best prep point guard in the country.

Again I beg the question: ethical?  Become a licensed agent, then withdraw your license only to become licensed again after you get some one-on-one access with a top recruit?  Without assuming anything, this story sounds a little fishy.  To Brian Clifton’s defense, he says that he will not reapply to be an agent once Wall declares for the NBA and that he will not take any handler’s fee from an agent looking to sign Wall up.

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