Rick Pitino in college basketball investigation

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Former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino received a grand jury subpoena as part of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting, his lawyer told the Courier-Journal first on Wednesday.

Steve Pence, Pitino’s lawyer, said that “we’ve already acknowledged that the coach has a subpoena and he’s gathering documents for the … U.S. attorney.”

He added that he thought he previously disclosed that information in the packet submitted to the University of Louisville Athletic Association which contained an affidavit from Pitino, the results of a lie detector test, and copies of text messages sent to an wholesale basketball jerseys brand executive and a sports agent who were arrested as part of the investigation.

However, a Courier-Journal review of those documents shows no mention of the word “subpoena.” The affidavit does say that Pitino voluntarily spoke with the FBI.

Dawn Dearden, spokeswoman for the U.S. District of New York, said she could not comment on the “existence of grand jury subpoenas.”

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University of Louisville athletics spokesman Kenny Klein declined to say whether anybody at the university did receive one.

Pence downplayed the existence of the subpoena, and he has not answered what documents Pitino is specifically gathering for the U.S. attorney.

“If the FBI thinks you have anything, like on your phone or any records, they don’t issue a subpoena, they issue a warrant and they take it, so you can’t destroy anything,” Pence said.

It remains unclear if former University of Louisville assistant coach Jordan Fair or suspended associate head coach Kenny Johnson have also received a subpoena in the case. Neither Fair’s nor Johnson’s attorneys responded to requests for comment Wednesday.

Pitino was fired as head coach of the Louisville men’s basketball team this week in the wake of the university learning it is included in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting.

“We felt our initial decision … was still in the best interest of the university,” interim President Greg Postel said at the time.

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Pitino also saw his Adidas contract terminated mere hours after being fired by the school. In response, he filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky on Tuesday alleging the apparel company deliberately damaged his reputation.

The FBI complaint accuses Adidas of attempting to funnel money to the families of two Louisville recruits in return for them to attend the university, sign with Adidas and hire certain advisers when those players turned pro.

Adidas spokeswoman Maria Culp said in a statement this week that, “Pitino’s lawsuit is clearly a reaction to his termination yesterday and is without merit.”

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The wait is almost over. Almost. Half the year has dragged on without college basketball, and our appetite for hoops is enormous.

Which is why, with crisp fall air swirling, we’re going to preview the biggest stories and names from the college basketball landscape.

Today, we feast on the Big East.

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You know your team is in a good place when you graduate the best player in the conference and already have the next one lined up. Villanova’s Josh Hart put together one of the more impressive season in the country last year, but with Hart gone, it’s Jalen Brunson’s time to be the Wildcats’ No. 1 option in his third year on campus.

Brunson, a smooth 6-3 point guard with a silky offensive game, often looks like he has the ability to score at will. He added more than five points per game from his freshman season to his sophomore game, while also improving his field goal percentage by nine percent and his free throw percentage by double digits. He also added 1.6 assists per game while cutting down his turnovers per 100 possessions.

Basically, he got better at everything, and there’s no reason to think he won’t do so again.

With Hart gone, Brunson will both be handling the ball more and scoring more, and if Villanova ends up taking the Big East crown once again, Brunson is going to be a big part of why.

With championship experience in his freshman year and talent coming out of his ears, the junior playmaker is one of the most well-rounded players in the country, and he should take off in a big way this fall.

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Like Jay Wright’s suits, the Wildcats will likely be among the best in the country once again this year. Having the aforementioned Brunson running the show certainly helps, but this isn’t a one-man team by any means.

Big man Omari Spellman (6-9, 245 pounds) will make his debut this season, a perfect foil to Brunson’s smooth point guard play. There’s also the returning shooter Mikal Bridges, who averaged 9.8 points per game while knocking down nearly 40 percent of his threes last year, and Donte DiVincenzo, another enticing shooter who took a big step forward last season in Ryan Arcidiacono’s wake.

The all-around talent they have at every position on the floor, and the head-and-shoulders-above talent they have in Brunson and Spellman, will make Wright’s team a hard one to compete with for its Big East foes, and, frankly, for the entire country.