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FBI investigation sending shockwaves through 2018 recruits

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- As the FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting continues, the shockwaves are already being felt in the 2018 class for several programs.

While the college basketball world waits nervously for each development, the recruiting world has been reacting at a rapid pace. Decommitments, list cuts and quicker-than-expected decisions have all occurred since news of the FBI investigation -- which focused on coaches being paid tens of thousands of dollars to steer NBA-bound players toward sports agents, financial advisers and apparel companies -- broke Sept. 26 and assistant coaches at Arizona, USC, Oklahoma State and Auburn were arrested. Louisville and Miami have also been impacted.

The biggest hit, of course, has been to Louisville. Since the Cardinals placed head coach Rick Pitino on unpaid administrative leave, both their 2018 five-star commits -- Anfernee Simons (No. 8 in the ESPN 100) and Courtney Ramey (No. 49) -- reopened their recruitments, as did four-star 2019 commit David Johnson.

"As soon as I found out that Coach P got fired, that was really it," Simons said at the USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp, held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, over the weekend. "He's the one I trusted. I trust all the coaches, but he's the one that made me go there. He had a vision for me, and I trusted him with that vision. When he got fired, that was it."

Assistant coaches Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair were also placed on paid administrative leave on Friday, with David Padgett taking over as the interim head coach last month.

"I was going to take my time and see what happened with Coach P," Simons said. "If he didn't get fired and nothing happened, I was going to stay with it."

The scandal and subsequent firing has also ended Louisville's chances with their top two remaining targets in 2018: five-stars Romeo Langford (No. 5) and Moses Brown (No. 17).

Langford dropped the Cardinals from his list the night Pitino was fired.

"It was a family decision," Langford said. "My dad and my mom, we just sat down and talked, and we felt like, we don't want to be part of anything like that. So we made a decision just to cut them off the list."

Brown also told ESPN on Saturday that Louisville was no longer on his list.

"I didn't want to be associated with anything negative," Brown said. "I really don't need that right now."

Arizona has kept its 2018 recruiting class intact so far, with Jahvon Quinerly (No. 23), Shareef O'Neal (No. 24) and Brandon Williams (No. 52) all remaining in the fold despite the arrest of assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson.

Quinerly was not explicitly named in the FBI documents, but was recruited by Richardson, who was one of four assistants arrested. The documents allege a $15,000 bribe from Richardson to Player-5, who "verbally committed to attending" Arizona "on or about Aug. 9, 2017." Quinerly committed to Arizona on Aug. 8.

When asked on Saturday whether he accepted money, Quinerly responded: "I have no comment."

Quinerly said he hired a lawyer in connection with the FBI investigation, but was still committed to Arizona -- for the time being.

"I'm not sure yet," he said when asked whether he would end up at Arizona. "For now, I'm committed."

Several of Sean Miller's biggest frontcourt targets, however, are also looking elsewhere. Simi Shittu (No. 6) reportedly canceled his Arizona official visit, leaving just Vanderbilt and North Carolina in his recruitment. Nate Laszewski (No. 51) committed to Notre Dame days after the news broke, without taking a visit at Arizona.

Bol Bol (No. 4) cut his list to Kentucky and Oregon on Saturday. Bol had been considering Arizona and USC.

"Some of the schools were under investigation, and I kind of just didn't really want to be a part of that," Bol told ESPN on Saturday.

No. 14 Nassir Little committed to North Carolina last week. Little, whose AAU program director, Brad Augustine of 1 Family Hoops, was one of the 10 men arrested, had Arizona and Miami as his perceived leaders.

"I just didn't want to be mixed in a situation where any of the accusations seemed like it was true," Little told ESPN last week when he committed. "Because it wasn't."

Two other ESPN 100 prospects have changed their plans since the FBI bombshell, with E.J. Montgomery (No. 31) decommitting from Auburn and Antwann Jones (No. 45) backing off his pledge to Oklahoma State.

Miami was expected to host Jules Bernard (No. 47) for a visit in late September, but that did not happen. The Hurricanes were also cut by Jalen Carey (No. 34), who chose Syracuse over Connecticut last week.

USC appeared on the verge of landing a potential commitment from Elijah Weaver (No. 42) last week, but Weaver pushed back his decision due to everything that happened, sources told ESPN.

While the FBI's investigation is ongoing, other recruiting dominoes are likely to fall as a result.

High-level prospects with their choice of destinations don't want to take the chance on getting caught in the crosshairs of an FBI investigation. And while the NCAA has not launched a formal investigation, recruits don't want to risk going somewhere that could have NCAA sanctions by the time they arrive on campus.

"If their punishment affects me playing there, that'll obviously change my decision," said David Johnson, the 2019 Louisville native who decommitted from the Cardinals.

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