Former UConn Star Tate George Scammed Other Basketball Stars and Went to Prison for Fraud After His Disappointing NBA Career

Tate George is a UConn Huskies and college basketball legend. He had a nice career for the Huskies but fans really remember him for his last-second shot in the NCAA Tournament against Clemson. George’s college success, however, didn’t translate to the NBA, as he didn’t even play four full seasons in the league. His life after his NBA career has since been even more disappointing, though, as George ultimately got sentenced to nine years in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme.

Tate George is a UConn Huskies legend

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Tate George began playing for the UConn Huskies in 1986-87 during Jim Calhoun’s first season as head coach. UConn was horrible that season, as the Huskies went 9-19. George had a nice year, though, as he averaged 10 points per game, six assists, and 1.3 steals.

UConn then played better in the next two seasons — despite not making the NCAA Tournament — but George’s numbers weren’t as great. He averaged 9.9 points per game, 5.6 assists, and 1.3 steals in 1987-88, and 7.3 points per game, 4.9 assists, and 1.5 steals in 1988-89.

However, in 1989-90, George had his best season, and the Huskies were one of the best teams in the country. He ended up averaging 11.5 points per game in 1989-90 to go with 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and two steals. He also helped lead UConn to a 31-6 record, and they went all the way to the Elite Eight before barely losing to Duke, 79-78.

George earned All-Big East honors in that final season, but he was crucial to UConn in the postseason. He ultimately earned All-Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament All-Region honors. Additionally, in the Sweet 16 against Clemson, George sank a buzzer-beater to help the Huskies win 71-70 — putting him in NCAA Tournament and UConn lore for the rest of his life.

He was a first-round NBA draft pick

UConn legend Tate George is remembered for his buzzer-beater in the NCAA Tournament. After basketball, though, he ultimately went to prison.
Tate George of the University of Connecticut in 1990. | Bob Stowell/Getty Images

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Tate George’s play in college led to him going to the New Jersey Nets with the No. 22 overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft. The Nets selected him in front of many 10-plus-year NBA players, too, like Elden Campbell, Tony Kukoc, and Cedric Ceballos.

He then played in 56 games for the Nets in 1990-91 and only averaged 3.4 points per game and 1.9 assists. George’s best season came in 1991-92 when he recorded six points per game and 2.3 assists in 14.8 minutes.

However, after that season, he only averaged 2.5 points and 1.2 assists in 1992-93 before not playing in the league at all in 1993-94. George then appeared in three games for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1994-95.

For his career, George appeared in 177 games and averaged 4.2 points and 1.8 assists.

Tate George went to prison for a Ponzi scheme

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After his basketball career, George has since been arrested and, in 2013, he was convicted on four counts of wire fraud, according to ESPN. Additionally, in 2016, George was sentenced to nine years in prison for “operating a real estate Ponzi scheme in which investors lost $2.55 million,” according to the Hartford Courant.

George had already served more than two years at the time of his sentencing. His dismissal of two attorneys ultimately delayed his sentencing.

ESPN reported that “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.” His victims reportedly included former NBA players Charlie Villanueva and Brevin Knight. George later lost his appeal for his prison term in 2017, per ESPN.

Tate George might be a legend in some circles, but being a legend doesn’t keep you from spending time behind bars. Hopefully, he turns his life around once he gets released.

Stats courtesy of Sports Reference and Basketball Reference