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Clemson Basketball offseason update

David Perez, Photo Editor
Returning center, Elijah Thomas (14), will be one of the most important players in the Tigers’ rotation this year. 

     Perhaps the most impactful roster change during the Tigers’ offseason came not in the form of a prospect declaring his intent to play for Clemson, but in a recruit declaring his intention to play elsewhere.

     Highschool phenom Zion Williamson was a 5-star basketball recruit and the No.3 prospect in his class. His Instagram account currently has over 1.7 million followers thanks to his outlandish athletic ability in conjunction with his bulky 285-pound frame.

     Clemson appeared to be in perfect position to make the biggest splash in the program’s history thanks to Williamson’s proximity to the University. Williamson grabbed the national spotlight while he was at Spartanburg Day, just over an hour away from Clemson’s campus. On top of that, Zion’s stepfather played at Clemson. After the basketball team’s most successful season in 20 years, it seemed a natural decision that he would be wearing the orange and white come November.

     Instead, Williamson shocked the college basketball world by declaring that he would play for the Duke Blue Devils under legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

     Compounding the absence of Williamson, the Tigers lost 3-point marksman Gabe DeVoe and locker-room-leader Donte Grantham. Without a star recruit to fill the void, it seemed as though the team’s success would be remembered as an aberration rather than the beginning of a winning tradition.

     However, the Tigers managed to retain staring guards Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed and starting center, Elijah Thomas. Backup forward Aamir Simms was thrust into a starting role after Grantham was injured last season and will also likely receive more playing time in the coming months. The transfer of forward Javan White adds depth to the team’s forward rotation and should allow the team another successful season in the ACC.

     Of course having Williamson would’ve been a plus for the team, but the fact that the Tigers were able to retain three starters (four if you count Aamir Simms) and add Javan White means that Clemson will maintain its nucleus that was so successful last season.

     It is helpful too that Clemson’s success last season was based on the team’s ability to function as a unit, rather than relying on a particular player’s singular talent. Because so much of the team is returning, the style of play should be largely unchanged. This should spell big things as Clemson stands on the brink of beginning a new winning tradition.

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