Now, it appears there is a very good reason Cherry chose USC in the first place, and now is no longer going there. The LA Times reported late last night that Cherry is the mysterious “Player 8” identified in the criminal complaint against USC coach Tony Bland.
Five-star prospect Taeshon Cherry identified as USC recruit mentioned in FBI probe; Cherry's mother denies her son's involvement. https://t.co/DtDODJngcY— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) December 27, 2017
Cherry’s family denies the allegations according to the Los Angeles Times. We took a look at how the bribery scandal potentially affected Gonzaga targets, considering many of Gonzaga’s hopeful 2018 class ended up at schools explicitly named in the probe, such as USC and Arizona.
Cherry specifically mentioned his association with Bland as one of his reasons for picking USC, but the Cherry family has also known Bland for more than a decade. The association seemed harmless at best, until proven otherwise.
Bland was caught by an FBI undercover informant handing over $4,000 in an envelope to an agent meeting with a relative of Player 8. If Player 8 is truly Cherry, than his collegiate career is over before it started. Although the informant doesn’t have a first-hand account of Bland giving money directly do the Cherry family, the NCAA generally has no problem punishing players for starving players getting money for sandwiches or money to literally provide a roof over their head.
Regardless of where you stand on the NCAA issue, this report most likely will spell the end of the Gonzaga recruitment. Although some schools continue recruitment of players whose eligibility is up in the air for the NCAA, the Zags usually reserve those questions for their foreign imports.