Clemson welcomed some prominent visitors to Death Valley for its victory over Auburn. Along with committed 5-star defensive end target Xavier Thomas, the Tigers also welcomed elite wing prospect Zion Williamson. Williamson, a native of Spartanburg, was seen palling around with Thomas throughout the game. Along with helping the Clemson coaches recruit football targets, Thomas is also aiding Brad Brownell and the Tiger basketball staff with Williamson.
If Clemson can pull off signing Williamson in basketball, along with Thomas and fellow top five national prospect Trevor Lawrence in football, the Tigers would make modern-day ACC history.
Going back over the last decade, no school in the country has been able to sign the consensus No. 1 prospect in both football and basketball. Since 2008, only twice has a school earned commitments from top five prospects in the 247Sports Composite in both basketball and football in the same year. Clemson is in a position to be in the first ACC school to accomplish that feat in the last decade if they find a way to land Williamson.
In 2008. Ohio State signed Terrelle Pryor for football, and B.J. Mullens for basketball. Both Pryor and Mullens ranked No. 2 nationally in the 247Sports Composite. The second instance was in 2017, when Alabama signed Najee Harris and Alex Leatherwood in football, and Collin Sexton in basketball.
Among ACC schools, Florida State has come closest in recent years to signing top five national prospects in both sports. In 2016, FSU signed Levonta Taylor (No. 7 in the 247Sports Composite football rankings) and Jonathan Isaac (No. 9 in the 247Sports Composite basketball rankings).
Clemson’s visit from Williamson was of the unofficial variety. Williamson has scheduled four of his five official visits. His first official is scheduled for Kentucky the weekend of Sept. 23. The following weekend, Williamson will be at Kansas. In addition, he’ll be traveling to UCLA and Duke in October.
The fact that Clemson hasn’t landed an official visit doesn’t mean they’re out of the running. Williamson’s trip for the Auburn game proved it. But at the same time, what prominent recruit doesn’t want to be at a marquee, nationally-televised Saturday night football game?
The Tigers have their work cut out in landing Williamson. The 5-star wing has spoken highly of Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who indicated he would use Williamson the way he used LeBron James in the Olympics. Kansas and Kentucky also present major challenges. But if they could pull it off, Zion Williamson would be a game-changer for Clemson.
Along with providing Brownell with a do-it-all wing with explosive scoring potential, it would dramatically raise Clemson’s recruiting profile. Landing a player of Williamson’s caliber could be the springboard to even bigger and better things. Florida State has given an example of that in recent years by signing the likes of Malik Beasley, Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac, and most recently M.J. Walker. Such a snowball effect in recruiting could get Brownell off the hot seat, and in position to once again challenge near the top of the ACC standings.