Villanueva, who signed a $35 million contract with the Detroit Pistons in 2009, testified that it hurt to be bilked by another UConn alum.
"It's $250,000," Villanueva said. "That could have gone to my son's education."
George and Villanueva, who were both at the 2006 Calhoun charity game, were from different eras of UConn history. But George has kept some contact with players from his generation. Some have reached out to him recently, and George sent an email to ex-teammates in which he maintained his innocence after he was first charged in 2011.
Scott Burrell, who threw the court-length pass to George to set up The Shot, was a freshman when George was a senior and did not know his ex-teammate well. Burrell, now an assistant coach at Quinnipiac, was one of the former teammates on the receiving end of George's email blast.
"It's very sad to see it [the trial] happen," Burrell said Sept. 22 at a tribute event for Calhoun. "You don't know if he's innocent, guilty until the trial [ends]. It's sad to be in that situation. The last time I saw him, he said it wasn't true."
Among those who testified against George was Nick Nassiff, whose family operated a Willimantic sporting goods store where George worked between his junior and senior year at UConn. George befriended the family during his time as an employee and they rekindled the connection when George ran into family members in Florida in 2005.
Nassiff, who now works as a planner for the state of New Jersey, was looking for a job in urban planning and George offered an opportunity with his company, The George Group. Nassiff, who was subpoenaed by the government, testified that he realized after the fact that he had passed on misinformation to investors. He said he eventually left the company because real estate projects never seemed to reach completion.
But when asked about how his family developed a relationship with George, Nassiff offered some insight into George's personality.
"We were all enamored with Tate," Nassiff said.
A former employee of the store who worked with George said the UConn basketball player was charming with customers, but wasn't an especially hard worker. The former employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said George also carried himself with a swagger — when other employees asked him about his post-college plans, George casually said he would play in the NBA.
And this was after George's junior season, when he averaged 7.3 points and was not viewed as an NBA prospect. He had played for an NIT-winning team in 1988, but his NBA assertion seemed absurd.
Even Calhoun admits he didn't see George as an NBA player until his senior year.
"I couldn't really see it until his senior year, when he started making shots and became a much better shooter," Calhoun said. "Then I could project him. He was a good player, made some big plays in the tournament and got himself into the NBA. … I always thought he was very confident in himself, but he's not the only player like that. You can't be good at this game without having some confidence."
George's charisma and charm were always evident. In the spring of 1989, George talked about his relationship with Craig Bryden, a hearing-impaired teenager from Wethersfield. After George sank decisive free throws in an NIT victory over California, he said he had been thinking about Bryden.
"Tate was my favorite UConn basketball player," said Bryden, now a married father of three living in Enfield. "I called him out of blue using relay call. Tate offered to give me tickets for the NIT game. ... We hit it off since then and became friends."
George stayed in touch with Bryden after entering the NBA. When Bryden was attending college in North Carolina, George provided tickets to games in Charlotte or Atlanta.
"He used to treat me and my buddies out to eat after the game," Bryden said. "Great times we had together. He was always the same guy after he graduated from UConn and played in the NBA."
The relationship faded after Bryden graduated from college and George's NBA career ended. They last communicated a few years ago, Bryden said on an AOL messenger chat.
"I remember him telling me he is really proud of his daughters," Bryden said.
George hasn't lived in Connecticut for more than a decade, but his ex-wife and two daughters remained in the state. He has been based in Florida and New Jersey, forging relationships with two business mentors.