According to those at Jenks High School in Tulsa, who spoke to HornsDigest.com on condition of anonymity, there is no way you could’ve convinced them that Reese Christopher Leitao (pronounced LAY-toe), son of DePaul University basketball coach Dave Leitao, would’ve been arrested and charged with felony possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (Xanax) in a school zone last month.
One Jenks school administrator told HD there were tears in the eyes of more than one school official when they learned of the arrest of Leitao, who was described as a humble, straight-A student and universally liked tight end star on the Jenks football team.
“We take the facts of the case as well as the entire character of a defendant into consideration before making any decision about a possible plea agreement,” said Erik Grayless, the prosecutor in the Tulsa County district attorney’s office handling Leitao’s case.
“We have a lot of statements from administrators at Jenks High School who consider him (Leitao) a very good man.
“Unfortunately, the facts of this case are run of the mill for us. We see cases like this all the time - just switch out the individual defendant.”
Leitao’s attorney, Allen Smallwood, declined to get into the facts of the case or how Leitao has found himself in this situation, which has put Leitao’s scholarship opportunity to Texas in jeopardy.
Smallwood would only say he intends to show the circumstances of the case do not match up with Leitao’s character and past behavior.
“If you would’ve asked anyone at Jenks prior to the arrest about Reese Leitao, they would’ve told you he’s a poster boy for athletically and academically gifted student-athletes,” Smallwood said.
“Reese is a humble kid who comes from a great family. He’s an A-student who gets his homework in on time and causes no trouble for his teachers.
“There’s no ego with this kid. Jenks football coach Allan Trimble, who is a legend in this community, told me he’d do anything for Reese.”
According to the Jenks Campus Police Department, Leitao was in possession of roughly 20 Xanax tablets at the time of his arrest on Feb. 28 at Jenks High School. Fox 23 TV in Tulsa reported, according to police, Leitao admitted to a Jenks school administrator he was selling the tablets.
A source connected to Jenks High School told HD it was their belief Leitao offered to take the tablets from a female Jenks student from a well-connected family in Tulsa, because Leitao didn’t think he’d get checked by campus officers.
If the alleged offense happened most anywhere else - at the mall or on a downtown street - it would be charged as a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law.
But because it happened within 2000 feet of a school - or in this instance, inside the school - it’s a felony charge punishable by four years to life in prison upon conviction.
As far as the University of Texas is concerned, the only way Leitao would be allowed to enroll on a football scholarship is if the case is somehow reduced to a misdemeanor. Even if that happened, football coach Tom Herman and UT officials would have to agree Leitao was still deserving of the Texas scholarship.
And without either side talking about the facts of the case or how Leitao ended up in this situation, it’s hard to determine the likely outcome.
There is no question when Leitao sent in his letter of intent to Texas on National Signing Day (27 days before his arrest), the 6-foot-4, 237-pound 4-star tight end was seen as a possible answer immediately at a huge position of need for the Longhorns.
“It’s my understanding (Texas) coach (Tom) Herman would like to know how this is going to be resolved as soon as possible,” Grayless said. “There is a hearing set for April 18th at 9 am, so we’ll see where things are at that point.
“There has been some conversation with Mr. Leitao’s counsel, but there’s been no formal request from them and nothing promised by the DA’s office. Ultimately, it’s up to them to make the case for any kind of plea agreement.”
Underwood said he hasn’t seen any witness statements collected by the prosecution.
But Underwood added, “Everything about Reese Leitao - from his grades to his character, even as stated by school administrators - has been golden.
“We’ll package all that and show he is deserving of the most consideration possible from the prosecution.”
ANDREW JONES ENTERING THE NBA DRAFT WITHOUT AN AGENT
HD can confirm sophomore-to-be guard Andrew Jones is entering the NBA Draft without an agent.
All indications are that Jones plans to return to Texas next season but wants to go through the evaluation process leading up to the draft so that he can get feedback from NBA personnel about his game and what he needs to work on most, one source close to the situation said.
That source said the Texas coaching staff was surprised and not all that encouraging about Jones' decision.
Jones was recruited to Texas by former UT assistant coach David Cason, and a source said the Jones' family was surprised and not at all encouraged by Smart's decision to let Cason go.
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft without an agent is April 23, and then they have until 10 days after the draft combine (May 9-14) to withdraw from draft consideration.
Meanwhile, I continue to hear the likelihood of Texas big man Jarrett Allen staying in the NBA Draft is strong. The good news for Texas is Allen is still going to class and is taking part in team workouts, I'm told.
TEXAS HOOPS RECRUITING UPDATE
Texas has offered 2017 Garland Lakeview Centennial SG Zhaire Smith, an athletic, 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard, whose decision might be coming down to Texas and Texas Tech.
Smith is a smart kid with a lot of athleticism and upside but is definitely raw and will need work.
I continue to hear 2017 5-star big man Mo Bamba, who appears to be down to Texas, Kentucky, Duke and Michigan, is leaning toward Kentucky, and that 5-star forward Brian Bowen, who is also being recruited by Texas, is leaning toward either Arizona or Michigan State.
The spring signing date for basketball is April 12. That's when 2017 4-star PG Matt Coleman is expected to sign with the Longhorns.
Beyond Zhaire Smith, Bamba and Bowen, the recruiting pickings for 2017 high school kids are getting slim, so the Longhorns are looking at transfers (JUCO and otherwise).
SHAKA SMART AND THE GEORGETOWN RUMORS
I continue to hear the Georgetown job is Shaka Smart's if he wants it. But I'm also told by sources close to Smart that Smart isn't going anywhere.
There has been no definitive statement from Smart that he's not going anywhere. And the Georgetown rumor seems to continue flopping around like a fish on a boat deck until something stamps it out.
I quoted Texas basketball SID Scott McConnell earlier this week saying, "Shaka (Smart) is totally focused on the Texas basketball program. He has started spring workouts with the returning players and continues to push forward with recruiting."
I've heard Smart is concerned about how long Mike Perrin will be the athletic director and wants assurance (not any new contract terms - just assurance) from the president's office that no matter who might come in as a new athletic director that Smart is still seen as the person to lead Texas basketball into the future.
Smart has six years and roughly $18 million remaining on a guaranteed contract through the 2022-23 season (including the year Texas added on to the contract after his first season, when the Houston Rockets expressed interest in talking to Smart).
Longhorns' Recruits Gearing Up for Texas Relays
Texas Relays are back in Austin, meaning several of the Longhorns' top football prospects will be on the 40 Acres.
Here's a complete list of recruits participating in Texas Relays Track and Field events.
4-Star WR Damion Miller: 100 Meter Dash
5-Star WR Brennan Eagles: 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay; 4x400 Meter Relay
4-Star S Atanza Vongor: 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x400 Meter Relay
4-Star CB D'Shawn Jamison: 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay; 4x400 Meter Relay
4-Star WR Al'vonte Woodard: 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay; 4x400 Meter Relay
4-Star QB Jalen Mayden: 4x100 Meter Relay
4-Star CB Tanner McCalister: 4x100 Meter Relay
4-Star S Jordan Moore: 4x100m Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay; 4x400 Meter Relay
4-Star WR JaquayLyn Crawford: 100 Meter Dash; 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay; Long Jump
3-Star TE Bralen Taylor: 4x200 Meter Relay; 4x400 Meter Relay
3-Star CB Starrland Baldwin: 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay
3-Star WR KeVon Ahmad: 100 Meter Dash; 4x100 Meter Relay
3-Star RB Ta'Zhawn Henry: 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay
4-Star WR Jordan Whittington: 4x100 Meter Relay; 4x200 Meter Relay; 4x400 Meter Relay
CB Marquez Beason: 100 Meter Dash; 4x100 Meter Relay
C Branson Bragg: Discus Throw