William "WorldWide Wes" Wesley
Photo Source:  BleacherReport.com
 
An article by a website called the Pasadena Post caught my attention on Twitter recently. The article was very outlandish but I do believe that there was some truth to it. It insinuated that Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari and his agent William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley cheated during the 2014 NCAA Tournament. How did they cheat?
The article suggests that the referees throughout Kentucky's run to the NCAA Championship Game were paid off and made calls that strongly favored Kentucky. The only call that I remember was the phantom foul call vs. Louisville's Montrezl Harrell, which subsequently fouled him out of the game. The Pasadena Post writer also claims to have a friend with proof of emails between Calipari and "WorldWide Wes" supporting this theory. Although I doubt the validity here, crazier things have happened. Who remembers the NBA referee Tim Donaghy and all that he got in trouble for? There are numerous point shaving incidents throughout our history of sports too.

 

While I didn't want to write an article that was as accusatory, I wanted to write an article that examines the many common and not so coincidental relationships between John Calipari and William "WorldWide Wes" Wesley. I wanted to present only facts and no theory which is primarily all that the Pasadena Post article was. 
 
William Wesley with Dajuan Wagner and Orlando Antigua
Photo Source:  SportsAngle.com
 
"Who exactly is WorldWide Wes and what does he do"? That question has been asked so many times that Wes himself may not know what he does anymore. William Wesley, pictured above with former NBA player Dajuan Wagner and former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua (blue shirt), has been in the background of the basketball scene at least since the 1980's. He began as a shoe salesman in Cherry Hill, NJ at "Pro Shoes" in the Cherry Hill Mall (suburban Philadelphia). After befriending a number of professional athletes because he could hook them up with sneakers, his name began to grow. Shoe companies like Nike also began to take notice of the volume of shoes he was moving at "Pro Shoes". Although Nike and it's founder Phil Knight refuse to comment on their affiliation with Wes, he appears to be some kind of brand ambassador. 
 
Nike isn't the only entity that won't comment on the legend known as "WorldWide Wes". College coaches aren't talking either. As one college coach anonymously put it, "I don't want to negatively comment on Wes because of the consequences it could have on our recruiting". Translation -  "If I tell the truth, Wes will tell high school athletes not to sign with us." 
When Rick Pitino was asked about basketball recruiting and WorldWide Wes he responded by saying "I've lost a lot of recruits to John Calipari at Kentucky". Say no more, Ricky. Say no more. 
 
 Worldwide Wes behind the Kentucky Bench
So what is Wes' official title? On paper, he is a "consultant" with Creative Artists Agency - the largest sports and entertainment agency in the World. Among their list of clients includes David Beckham, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sidney Crosby. So why is a representative of a sports agency allowed to mingle with prep and college basketball players? Because Wes has a loophole. He is a licensed "coach's agent" and is John Calipari's agent which gives him unlimited access to basketball players. However, the NCAA has issued a public ban on Wes from credentialed areas of basketball games before, yet he still manages to show up backstage at games as you can see below. 
 
 
William Wesley with Richard Hamilton and rapper Drake
Photo SourceGiantLife.com
 
 
William "WorldWide Wes" Wesley with Rex Chapman
Was the photo above taken when Rex Chapman broke news that John Calipari was headed to the Los Angeles Lakers at season's end and that it was a done deal? According to Rex, he had heard the news from an "inside source". Hmmm. Without further ado, I wanted to move on to the meat and potatoes of this article. And that is to what degree is Wes connected to the Kentucky basketball program? Let's break it down kind of like a "six degrees of separation" of WorldWide Wes.  
 
 

The Associates

 
Kentucky Basketball Coach John Calipari
 

John Calipari

  • Background: John Calipari has left two basketball programs on probation; UMass and the University of Memphis. His phenomenal recruiting classes at the University of Kentucky have led to a lot of speculation and scrutiny regarding his recruiting tactics. As many will tell you, Coach Calipari sells the NBA to recruits, not college. And I for one, have a big problem with this. Close to 80% of NBA athletes are bankrupt within three years out of the league. That's a tough pill for players to swallow when their careers are over and they have no college degree. Check out how former NBA player David Harrison is living these days.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Calipari went on record to say that Worldwide Wes has been a “goodwill ambassador” to him and the Memphis basketball program. Hey, that's good enough for me – let's smack them both with a penalty! Wes says that he admires Calipari because he is more honest than other college coaches about whether or not players are ready for the NBA. Why is Worldwide Wes interested in whether or not college players are ready for the NBA? What's in it for him?  Calipari says he met Wes some time back in the 1980s. Once could only assume that Wes had a hand in getting Calipari the job with the New Jersey Nets in the late 90s (Wes' home state). Wes currently serves as Calipari's agent, giving him virtually unlimited access to basketball players at every level. Becoming an agent for basketball players would limit Wes' access to them due to rules and regulations.
Sources: 

 

 

 
 
 
Photo of NBA Agent Leon Rose.
Photo SourceYeshiva.edu
 

Leon Rose

 
  • Background: Leon Rose is an NBA super agent and practicing attorney with Creative Artists Agency – the same agency that employs Worldwide Wes. He is the former agent of Lebron James, Richard Hamilton and Allen Iverson. Rose is the current agent of Carmelo Anthony among other NBA players.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Leon and Wes met while the two were in high school. Leon played high school basketball at Wes' rival high school; Cherry Hill East. When players exit college and declare for the NBA, Wes nudges the best players to sign with Leon Rose as their agent.
Source
 
 
 
 
Photo of former NBA player Milt Wagner.
Photo Source:  SICollection.com
 

Milt Wagner


  • Background: Milt Wagner led the University of Louisville to the national title in 1986 and was a teammate of current University of Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne. He played two seasons in the NBA, one for the LA Lakers and one for the Miami Heat. John Calipari gave Milt an assistant coaching position at the University of Memphis to help lure his son, prized recruit Dajuan Wagner. Milt then became an assistant coach under Tony Barbee (UTEP and Auburn), who played at UMass under coach Calipari.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Wagner and Wes met during the 1980s when Wes was a shoe salesman at “Pro Shoes” in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (suburban Philadelphia). Wagner grew up just minutes from Philadelphia in nearby Camden, New Jersey. As I stated earlier, the shoe store was producing so much revenue that it caught the attention of shoe companies like Nike, Adidas and Reebok. This is likely where Wes' relationship with Nike originated. Wes still makes frequent appearances at Nike events including EYBL games and the Lebron James Skills Academy every summer. Milt Wagner's basketball career also proved to be monumental in helping Wes establish connections around the NBA and sports industry early on.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dajuan Wagner with John Calipari while at Memphis.
Photo Source:  BallIsLife.com
 

Dajuan Wagner

 
  • Background: Dajuan Wagner is perhaps the greatest prep player in New Jersey High School history. He is the son of Milt Wagner and like his father Milt, he starred at Camden High School in Camden, NJ. He played just one season at Memphis under John Calipari (2001-2002). Calipari revoked his scholarship to force Wagner into the NBA.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Worldwide Wes has been in Dajuan's life since he was a child. While Dajuan could have played college basketball virtually anywhere, Wes influenced Dajuan to go to Memphis to play for John Calipari. Not only was Dajuan's father given a job as an assistant coach at Memphis, John Calipari offered a scholarship to Dajuan's live-in friend Arthur Barclay to help seal the deal. A series of illnesses forced Dajuan Wagner out of the NBA after a few short seasons.
Source:
 
 
 
 
University of Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne
Photo Source:  CoachCal.com
 

Kenny Payne

 
  • Background: Kenny was a teammate of Milt Wagner's and helped lead the Louisville Cardinals to the 1986 NCAA title. He was an assistant coach at Oregon University from 2004-2009. He currently serves as an assistant coach to John Calipari at the University of Kentucky.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Like Milt Wagner, Payne met Wes during his days of selling shoes at “Pro Shoes” in Cherry Hill, PA. Despite no coaching experience, Payne was given an assistant coaching gig at Oregon University almost immediately. As many of you know, Oregon is essentially “Nike University” and Worldwide Wes likely had a hand in his hiring. Oddly enough, Detroit native and “The Family Detroit” alum Malik Hairston, committed to Oregon in 2004. Like Dajuan Wagner, Malik Hairston could have committed to virtually any college of his choice but wound up on the other side of the country.
Source
 
 
 
 
Photo of AAU coach Marlon "Smoke" Williamson.
Photo Source:  CardiacHill.com
 

Marlon "Smoke" Williamson

  • Background: Marlon "Smoke" Williamson was the long time AAU basketball coach of “The Family Detroit”, a team that competes on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball circuit. Williamson helped deliver his former players like James Young to John Calipari at Kentucky, Chris Douglas-Roberts to John Calipari at Memphis and Malik Hairston to Kenny Payne at Oregon. Not so ironically, Williamson eventually became an assistant coach at UMass, where John Calipari was formerly at the helm. He is now an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh where Calipari also formerly coached. 
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Although born in New Jersey, Worldwide Wes resides in Detroit, MI full time. “The Family Detroit” also receives funding from Nike. Wes appears to be a middle man for Nike and nudges “The Family's” players towards Nike schools like Kentucky.
Source
 
  

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

 

Photo Source:  Sports-Kings.com

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

 

  • Background: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's father was a teammate of Milt Wagner's at Camden High School in New Jersey. Kidd-Gilchrist is also a cousin to Dajuan Wagner. He committed to play at Kentucky for John Calipari in 2011. After just one season at Kentucky, he left for the NBA and signed with Rich Paul at Creative Artists Agency. He is a former high school teammate of Kentucky's Dakari Johnson when they played at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Worldwide Wes calls Kidd-Gilchrist his “nephew” although they're not related. Wes has been in his life for quiet some time and acted as his mentor after Michael's father was killed. Wes and Michael likely met due to the fact that Michael and Dajuan Wagner are cousins.
Source
 
 
 
 

 

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Photo Source FanSided.com

Anthony Davis

  • Background: Davis is currently the starting center for the New Orleans Pelicans and was a 2011 McDonald's All-American. He committed to John Calipari and the University of Kentucky in 2011 after much controversy regarding his recruiting.

 

  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: In 2010, a Chicago Sun-Times article that we have cited below, suggested that Anthony Davis' father was shopping him to colleges for an under the table payment of $150K-$200K. Remember when Cam Newton's dad was accused of doing the same at Auburn? Rumors like that just aren't made up out of the blue. Among Davis' short list of schools included Kentucky, Syracuse and DePaul. Davis signed with Kentucky. After Kentucky won the national title in 2012, Davis and Worldwide Wes openly celebrated together along with Nike's top executives (Phil Knight) which we have also cited below.
 
 
 
Source

 

 
 

 Dakari Johnson while at the University of Kentucky.

Photo Source WUKY.Org

Dakari Johnson

  • Background: Dakari Johnson is a 2013 McDonald's All-American and is currently a sophomore at the University of Kentucky. He played his high school ball at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He is projected to enter the NBA draft in either 2015 or 2016.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Wes was often seen in the stands of Dakari's high school games in New Jersey, often sitting with Dakari's mother. Dakari is likely a guy Wes became familiar when Dakari was a high school teammate of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Wes nudged Dakari to sign with John Calipari at the University of Kentucky in 2013.
Source

 

 

 

Lebron James with John Calipari.

 

Photo Source:  MassLive.com

Lebron James

 

  • Background: As if this guy needs an introduction. Lebron was the Cleveland Cavaliers' 1st round pick in the 2003 NBA draft out of St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. He was formerly represented by Leon Rose of Creative Artists Agency. James is currently represented by childhood friend Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: How Lebron and Wes met is unknown but I'm guessing it was at a Nike related event when Lebron was a prep player. I find it interesting that Lebron says that had he decided to go to college, he would have went to Memphis to play for John Calipari. According to the cited article below, Lebron and Wes rarely speak anymore. I wonder if it has anything to do with Lebron ditching Leon Rose and Creative Artists Agency and signing with his buddy Rich Paul? One can only speculate.
Source:
 
 
 
 

Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.

 

Photo Source:  MasterHerald.com

Derrick Rose

  • Background: Rose played under John Calipari at the University of Memphis for one season (2007-2008) and was the main culprit that landed the basketball program on probation due to the tampering of his test scores. He is currently the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls when he is healthy.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Rose failed the ACT three times in Chicago, IL but passed the SAT in Detroit, MI (hometown of World Wide Wes). Why Rose was even in Detroit to take the test was one of the major red flags that presented itself. Rose and Wes likely met when Rose was a prep player at Simeon High School in Chicago, IL. Wes led Rose to the University of Memphis to play for coach John Calipari. Rose' head coach Tom Thibodeau has World Wide Wes as his agent.
Source

 

 

Tony Barbee, former head coach at Auburn University.

 

Photo Source:  WarEagleExtra.com

Tony Barbee

  • Background: Barbee played under John Calipari at UMass during the 1990s. He is currently a special assistant to Calipari at the University of Kentucky. He was the former head basketball coach at both UTEP and Auburn University.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Wes acted as Tony Barbee's agent when he was the head basketball coach at Auburn. Barbee was fired from Auburn in 2014. Barbee was offered an assistant coaching position under John Calipari at Kentucky almost immediately.
Source
 
 

 

NBA Agent Rich Paul.

 

Photo Source:  HowToMakeIt.com

Rich Paul

  • Background: Best friend and agent to Lebron James – owner of the Klutch Sports Group. Formerly an agent with Creative Artists Agency. Also the agent of former Kentucky players Eric Bledsoe and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Rich Paul and Worldwide Wes were both employees under Creative Artists Agency and are advisors to Lebron James.
Source:

 

 

 

 

 

James Young while at the University of Kentucky.

 

Photo Source:  BallOverall.com

James Young

 

  • Background: Young, a Detroit, Michigan native, played AAU basketball for “The Family Detroit” under Marlon “Smoke” Williamson. He went on to sign with the University of Kentucky in 2013. After one season, Young declared for the NBA Draft and was drafted by the Boston Celtics
  • Relationship with WorldWide Wes: Young met Wes as a prep player in Detroit, MI where Wes lives full time. Young's AAU team (The Family Detroit) was the same team that produced Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis) and Malik Hairston (Oregon). Wes led Young to sign with John Calipari at the University of Kentucky. Not so ironically, Young signed with Jay-Z's “RocNation” shortly before the 2014 NBA Draft, another close friend of Wes'. Calipari's tactics in the recruiting of Young via a documentary came into question in an article cited below. And surprise surprise, wouldn't you know it, World Wide Wes' name was also mentioned in the article.
Source:

 

 

What Social Media Is Saying

 

Don't get me wrong, many of the tweets listed above have no proof and are strictly opinion. But it's become obvious that the rest of the sports world is also convinced that something just isn't right in Lexington, Kentucky.  

 

Our theory on how WorldWide Wes and his network works: 

1) Wes uses his connections with Nike to scout and gain access to high school players as they compete in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League every summer. Nike outfits these teams with uniforms, shoes and pays their travel expenses. As much money as Nike generates for the NCAA, players are somehow allowed to receive these "gifts" without penalty. 

2) Wes then encourages high school players competing in the Nike EYBL to sign with Nike sponsored colleges such as Kentucky. With delivery, he gets a kickback of money from Nike under the table.

3) Once top recruits have signed with John Calipari and the University of Kentucky, Wes gets a kickback of money from either of them under the table. 

4) With continued success on the basketball court, John Calipari is able to command a larger salary from the University. Being Calipari's agent, a higher salary for John means a higher salary for Wes. Sports agents work on commission and it's usually in the neighborhood of 3%-5%.

5) When college players have become standouts and are on the NBA's radar come draft time, Wes nudges some of those same players to sign with Leon Rose and other agents at Creative Artists Agency. As a result, Rose or the agency will give kickbacks to Wes for the referral.  

6) Repeat the process.  

  

 

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