While Kentucky fans are certainly hanging on to every bit of recruiting news with Zion Williamson, the #2 player in the Class of 2018, so too are fans of the Clemson Tigers, just down the road from Zion’s hometown of Spartanburg.
Also at Clemson, head coach Brad Brownell could be fighting for his job and landing Williamson could be what saves it.
Rumors started circulating last year that Brownell, who began his tenure at Clemson in 2011 after successful stints at UNC-Wilmington and Wright State, would be fired but he was given at least one more year after finishing 17-16 last year (6-12 ACC).
This year, Brownell will have to find much more success on-the-court to justify retaining him after missing the NCAA Tournament the last six seasons.
But that isn’t looking too likely in what is shaping up to be a competitive ACC. Clemson was picked by the media to finish 13th in the conference during the preseason, only ahead of Boston College and Pittsburgh.
Duke, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech all figure to be challenges for the Tigers to return to the tournament, while matchups on the road at Ohio State and against Florida also will prove to be difficult for the Tigers.
Add to that losing leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Jaron Blossomgame and Brownell has a challenge on his hands this season.
Off the court, recruiting hasn’t been Brownell’s strong point. Clemson’s last five classes under Brownell have ranked 46th, 116th, 82nd, 80th, and 78th.
But this year, Brownell has a major opportunity on his hand to land Williamson, who is right in his back yard.
Clemson has been on Williamson for a long time, offering him a scholarship before his sophomore year of high school in June 2015.
As Williamson has gained national attention, Clemson has been largely dismissed as a potential landing spot for the talented forward, but recruiting experts have said that Clemson cannot be counted out, as staying home and bringing his stardom to a school close to where Zion grew up is a draw for him.
Williamson has not yet decided if he will make his decision in the fall or spring. As of now, it seems like he will probably wait until the spring and Clemson could be a major reason why.
Williamson may want to wait out the season to see what happens with Clemson (as well as the other schools he is considering). Williamson could delay his decision to see what happens with Brownell at Clemson. Does keeping Brownell improve their chances due to the continuity? Or does Zion wait to see if Brownell is let go and wait around to see who fills the job opening?
Either way, the uncertainty of Clemson’s coaching job could have an impact on Williamson’s recruitment which adversely affects all the schools recruiting Williamson, including Kentucky.
The coaching situation should be one to follow throughout the season.