UConn NCAA tourney hero Tate George sentenced to 9 years in prison

UConn's Tate George is best known for hitting this shot vs. Clemson in 1990. (NCAA)
UConn’s Tate George is best known for hitting this shot vs. Clemson in 1990. (NCAA)

A UConn basketball legend is now an infamously convicted Ponzi scheme con man.

Tate George, who played for UConn from 1986-1990 and famously sank a winning shot against Clemson in the Sweet 16 to give the Huskiers the first Elite Eight showing in school history, was sentenced on Thursday to a maximum of nine years in prison. His conviction, which came in 2013, was tied to his purposely misleading people (notably, former athletes) while operating a fraudulent real estate racket.

In 2013, former UConn star Charlie Villanueva testified against George, who was also handed a mandate to pay back $2.55 million in deceitful dealings with previous clients. The decision came down in Trenton, N.J., from a federal judge. Throughout the case, and over the past few days in finalizing his sentencing, George has been steadfast in his innocence.

The Associated Press reports:

He didn’t offer an apology to his victims, but instead claimed to be a well-intentioned businessman whose real estate projects unexpectedly fell through. He also repeated that his ventures were still alive and the money still out there but beyond his grasp in jail.

“For the umpteenth time, I’m sorry — I’m sorry the projects got delayed,” he said.

He also blamed prosecutors for withholding evidence that he said would allow him to prove his innocence.

“I don’t sleep at night,” he added. “I’m begging to go to the law library (in jail) to get the information out.” The U.S. attorney’s office said George persuaded victims to invest in real estate opportunities by lying about his company’s assets and projects, then took their money and used it for personal expenses and to pay off earlier investors.

George had 17 victims in total, according to the state’s case against him. His post-UConn career included three seasons with the New Jersey Nets and one with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was selected in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft. He is 47 years old.

Since George has already served two-plus years in federal prison since his 2013 conviction, that time will be used toward his clock. If you’d like even more details of the dirty behavior, the Hartford Courant has a rundown of so many of George’s misdoings. And here, the clip he’ll always be remembered for.