Shortly after an undercover FBI agent revealed her true identity to aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins in a hotel suite at Times Square in New York on Sept. 25, 2017, Dawkins' cellphone rang.
And then the undercover agent's cellphone rang. Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller was somehow simultaneously calling both phones.
"My phone rings, their phone rings," Dawkins said. "That s--- was like duplicated, basically. This s--- is crazy."
That scene was recreated in HBO's upcoming documentary "The Scheme," which will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on March 31. "The Scheme" was supposed to premier Tuesday at the South By Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas, but the festival was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
HBO provided a screening copy of the film, directed by Pat Kondelis, to ESPN and other media outlets on Tuesday.
The nearly two-hour documentary focuses on Dawkins' role in the federal government's three-year investigation into college basketball corruption, which led to the arrest of 10 men, including four assistant coaches.
Dawkins, a onetime runner for NBA agent Andy Miller, was convicted of helping facilitate money from Adidas to the families and handlers of high-profile recruits to steer them to Adidas-sponsored schools, and of bribing assistant coaches to steer their players toward his fledgling management company in a separate federal criminal trial. Dawkins has appealed both convictions.
In the film, he admitted to breaking NCAA rules but denied committing a federal crime.
"We admitted from Day 1 that we paid the players," Dawkins said. "There's no point in hiding that. There's no law in the world that says breaking an NCAA rule is a federal felony. There's no law that says that, and [prosecutors] twisted the law to make it fit."
The documentary includes audio of telephone calls that were captured by FBI wiretaps on one of Dawkins' cellphones, which remain under court seal and haven't previously been released publicly.
In one of the calls, former Arizona assistant Emanuel "Book" Richardson and Dawkins discuss trying to recruit former Wildcats center Deandre Ayton as a client for Dawkins' management company. Portions of the call were played to the jury during Dawkins' second criminal trial, in which he was accused of bribing Richardson and two other coaches.
"Book was loyal to Sean," Dawkins said in the film. "Arizona was definitely more open to getting some s--- done."
Richardson pleaded guilty to one count of federal bribery and served three months in prison.
"But see, your boy [Miller] promised that he was gonna let [us] work on that deal," Dawkins told Richardson during the call. "So we'll see how Sean plays it out. You know what I'm saying? We'll see if he's a man of his word. 'Cause he brought it up to me."
"Yeah, 'cause he need help," Richardson responded. "You know what he doing per month? I told you. Ten."
"Yeah, that's what I'm saying," Dawkins said. "He's putting up some real money for them [players]. He told me he's getting killed."
When Kondelis asked Dawkins about his conversation with Richardson, Dawkins said, "I'm being told that Sean is the one financing the Deandre Ayton situation."
Prosecutors previously had played at trial the call in which Richardson said Miller was paying $10,000 a month for Ayton.
Miller has denied paying Ayton, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, or any other player to sign with Arizona.
"I never have, and I never will," Miller said during a news conference in March 2018.
When Kondelis asked Dawkins about Miller's comments from that news conference, Dawkins said, "When Sean Miller had his press conference, I literally thought of Book, and I was like, 'S---, I mean Sean should have his own like movie agent or a manager, like he should be an actor. That was a very high-level ... I was convinced, honestly."
When Dawkins was asked if Miller was telling the truth, he replied, "When Sean Miller had his press conference and said has a player from Arizona ever received money or did he know anything about a player from Arizona receiving money, did he lie? Yeah, that wasn't true."
Dawkins later said in the film, "If anyone is going to say Book is a cheater and Book was a liar and Book paid players, then there's no way that you can separate Sean from it."
"The Scheme" also includes a call between Dawkins and Miller in which Miller discussed the Wildcats' recruitment of five-star prospect Nassir Little, who eventually signed with North Carolina. Miller asked Dawkins which one of Little's grassroots coaches had more influence over him.
"They definitely want to get some s--- for themselves because they have been taking care of the kid, and they f---ing like ..." Dawkins told Miller.
"Miami doesn't have an advantage over us in that area, do they?" Miller asked him.
"Well, I'll say this, what Miami does have is Adidas," Dawkins told Miller.
"There's no question the conversation was all about money," Dawkins told Kondelis in the documentary. "From my interpretation, maybe Sean speaks a different language than me, but I'm pretty sure that we can all agree that we was talking about what needed to happen to get it done."
In another call, Dawkins asked Miller if Arizona was recruiting five-star forward Naz Reid, who eventually signed with LSU and played one season for the Tigers.
"We're not even bringing him on a visit," Miller told Dawkins. "He's not even visiting. That's all s---. Like, I'm looking at our recruiting board, he's not even on it. I've never talked to the kid. ... He just probably said, 'You know what, f--- you. I don't want 75, I want 120. I may go to Arizona.' That's all that was."
Dawkins continued: "And [LSU coach] Will Wade -- I told Book, I said, 'Will Wade is like driving up the price of [players]. 'Cause he's not even doing like real numbers.'"
"I tell you what, I'll give him credit," Miller said. "He's got a big set of balls on him."
"No, Will Wade doesn't give a f---, Sean," Dawkins replied.
The film also includes audio of a lengthy telephone call between Wade and Dawkins, in which Wade discussed a "strong-ass" offer he said he made to land guard Javonte Smart, who signed with LSU.
ESPN and Yahoo Sports previously reported about the contents of the call.
Wade, who was suspended and then reinstated after those reports in 2019, denied ever doing business for players with Dawkins.
"I think the only way you can interpret someone in a head-coaching position saying that they made a strong-ass offer, they ain't talking about a scholarship offer, bro," Dawkins said in the film. "One hundred percent talking about money."
In the film, Dawkins even applauded Wade for avoiding criminal charges and keeping his job.
"Just the audacity. You've got to take your hat off to him, man. He not only didn't get charged for anything, not only did the government have all of this information and evidence and nothing was happening on a criminal level, he also basically just said f--- you to the NCAA and the university he worked for ... and he still got to keep his job and make millions of dollars. It's like the perfect storm.
"Will Wade is definitely a f---ing gangster for what he did."