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Clemson’s Team Play Might be Drawing Zion In

As much as it pains me to say, based on the latest swath of predictions from national recruiting analysts, I don’t think we’ll get to see Zion Williamson suit up in blue next year. The common sentiment I’ve seen get tossed around among fans about Zion’s decision seems to be utter disbelief that a player as elite as him would attend a school that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011.

But don’t look now: Clemson is actually playing really good basketball at the moment.

Currently ranked 25th in the nation, and set to move up after an overtime win against Louisville yesterday, the Tigers are poised to make their return to the Big Dance in 2018. Even with a relatively weak schedule thus far, a 14-1 record at this point in the season is impressive, and we’ll get to see just how effective Clemson can be when they face Miami at home and UNC in Chapel Hill before Zion’s January 20th commitment.

The Tigers have 5 players who average double figures in scoring, including a pair of redshirt junior guards, Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed, who score 12.4 and 15.9 points per game, respectively. They also lead the team in assists, combining for 110 thus far this season.

Clemson will return 3 of their starting 5 next season, with Mitchell and Reed being joined by 6’9″, 237 lb. forward Elijah Thomas, who averages 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds on the year. One slot that will be coming available is that of 6’8″ senior forward Donte Grantham, a position ripe for a flexible forward like Zion.

So while the idea of Williamson playing with the potential trio of Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Immanuel Quickley is salivating for Kentucky fans, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Clemson actually has a stable core of experienced contributors who would likely be happy to have such an elite talent stay home and join the team. And while I’d like to think a decision this monumental wouldn’t be swayed by just a few games, Kentucky has lost 2 of their last 5, while Clemson has won 10 straight, and for all we know, Zion could be looking for any reason to stay in South Carolina.

Regardless of the current situation, Coach Cal is still Coach Cal, the de facto NCAA ambassador to the NBA, and you can never count him out. But should Zion decide on Clemson… well, I guess I can kind of understand.

I’ll still be livid.


Article written by Jay Winkler

Avid fan of UK Athletics, WWE, and chicken wings. Preferably at the same time.

36 responses to “Clemson’s Team Play Might be Drawing Zion In”

  1. 502CodeRed

    It’s also important to mention that Clemson academics are superior to UK. Even if he is a one and done it’s still to his benefit to attend Clemson.

    1. Rembrandt

      Give me a break.

    2. truebluefootballfan

      I find it sooo amusing how many dirty birds frequent this sight…. so envious and jealous 😉 Dirtiest program around yet still can’t help but open their mouths every where they go. Smh and lol

    3. StevieGotLoose

      There is not one player on this team that is showing they are a one and done. His position is crowded and this team is dysfunctional. He should go elsewhere.

    4. shelby

      Well, that’s the dumbest thing i’ve read all day lol.

    5. UK Big Board Update


    6. ClutchCargo

      By 502redface’s logic li’l bro should never be able to sign a player.

    7. Eazy

      Louisville has by far the worst academics in the ACC. They are the laughingstock of that league. And UK is way better than UL academically, too.

    8. Eazy

      Louisville is ranked 32 spots behind UK in the national college rankings. Lol. So why are you talking? Louisville is not only the worst in the ACC it’s also worse than all the SEC schools. Pathetic.

    9. Eazy

      There is one school in the Power 5 worse than Louisville. That would be WVU. Aren’t you proud to be second to last? And even WVU got an invite before UL in conference realignment.

  2. Rembrandt

    Mr Winkler, I doubt the fit with returning players will have much to do Zion Williamson’s decision. Wherever he signs, Williamson will start and immediately become a feature player. If the kid’s family wants him to play for Clemson (like his stepfather did), and if he has it in his head to stay close to home, then all it takes is a close connection with Clemson’s coaching staff.

    The unspoken side of this is that Cal demands great conditioning, hard work, a team oriented attutude, and scrupulous attention to detail in every aspect of the game. Zion Williamson is 6’5″ 275#, out of shape, and while being a tremendous talent, might not be a good fit in Cal’s program. Playing for Cal might require a transformation that could be beyond this kid. Clemson is the path of least resistance.

    1. 502CodeRed

      Why do you have to break the kid down? “Out of shape”…”might not be a good fit”…”require a transformation”…”path of least resistance”. So many people do this and it’s really sad.

    2. Catlogic15

      I think this is closer to the truth than most here will admit.

    3. Rembrandt

      Code Red is trolling UK fans on a UK board.

    4. Eazy

      Code Red is the most ignorant sports fan I’ve ever seen online. UK owns your trash community college.

  3. BobNWeaver

    We should all let these kids choose what they think is best for them (for whatever reason: family, geography, preparation for NBA, school colors, right songs, whatever.) And those kids who DO choose UK we should give them our full support as they negotiate the complexities of being a young person while also competing in SEC athletics and taking college classes. These kids are living THEIR lives, not ours.

    1. Jiminy Crickets

      Williamson is the next Anthony Bennett. He will succeed in college and get drafted very high, then never heard from again. There’s not a lot of need for a 6’6″ 250lb small forward that can’t shoot. Is Vanderbilt comes back, I would not trade Vanderbilt for Williamson on an even swap

    2. Jiminy Crickets

      Sorry didn’t mean to respond to your post. My fault.

    3. Rembrandt

      It’s been a while since Zion Williamson weighed 250#.

  4. SuperTroy18

    We are UK.

    They’re Clemson.

    That should be enough for him to decide.

    1. dbookno1


  5. davis2319

    Recruits are starting to realize that if you are good enough, you will make it to the next level and it doesn’t matter where you spend your college career. If he wants to stay home and play for the people of his state then good for him. Can’t blame a kid for wanting to be apart of an up and coming program where he can “light the torch” instead of coming to UK where he will be another player in a long history of talent and simply “pass the torch” if that makes sense.

    1. Bobbum Man

      Well I think they’ve realized it for a while now…just a matter of if you want to practice and play with other great players day in and day out, or if you wanna be the man and have everything run through you

  6. davis2319

    And for whoever says he is out of shape, that is just not true. Lol watch his tape. The dude is a physical specimen who can do more things than most NBA players. Freak athlete, incredible touch around the rim, great hands. Dream player honestly.

    1. Ez21

      He is out of shape for what weight he should be playing at. He should be about 240-250. Then he’d be able to contribute all over the floor and play more mins bc he’d have the wind. Right now he just relaxes on d. Truthfully I think he’s gonna have some issues once he gets to college. He reminds me a lot of Julius randle in that he can’t shoot so teams will pack the paint. He needs to develop a jumper or he could very easily turn into a rebound/ put back guy like Randle was turned into.

  7. TB112162

    Only 1 of there top 8 players return he won’t be playing with any of those players

    1. Rain1940

      They have two seniors and one graduate playing. do you think five are leaving early? Not likely, not does it matter. Any kid should go to school where they wish, not to please a fan base, especially one as fickle as BBN

    2. TB112162

      I dont know what roster your looking at but Clemson plays 6 seniors and 1 graduate student 1 junior

    3. BlueDew

      Relatively a weak schedule? They lost to UT by 4 in an exhibition game, beat UF by 2 on neutral site and some think they might win SEC, beat OSU at OSU, beat NC State, and beat UL. Not to shabby so far. About as tough as our schedule, take out Kansas.

    4. poppycat

      You wrong….Rain right

  8. Matty Arbuckle

    We moved down when we beat Louisville, so maybe Clemson will, too?

  9. TB112162

    If he goes to Clemson fine but his not going there to playing in the NCAA tournament like I said before they lose 7 of there top players and all there guards.He won’t be going there to win just to average 20 and 15

  10. shelby

    To be honest, we will likely have shai, quade, herro, wenyon, vanderbilt, sacha, quickley, keldon johnson, jamarl baker; that’s 10 total with 7 that can play on the wing. We need a big a helluva lot more than we need another wing. And this is assuming richards leaves.

  11. ukfan9

    So an overtime win against Louisville and Clemson moves up and UK beats them by 29 and we lose spots. Makes sense.

  12. UKCatAttack

    There is no news in this article. How about we wait and see where he decides to go before ridiculing him? I don’t believe anyone actually knows what school he is going to pick and I still believe it could be UK. I saw him at Big Blue Madness and he was loving it. He loves the spotlight and I may be wrong but I can’t believe Clemson would have a big enough spotlight for him.

  13. Bobbum Man

    I still feel it’s all speculation, I don’t think anyone knows similar to Knox I still think we have a good shot. It’s never anything solid other than “other people are picking Clemson” or because “I always hear Clemson mentioned” obviously you will since his step dad played there