|by David Hood|
Clemson’s standout junior was home with his family following the Tigers’ ouster from last week’s NIT in New York, and made the decision on whether to turn pro or stay at Clemson last Friday. His announcement should come later this week.
TigerNet spoke with K.J.’s mother – Shawn McDaniels – on Monday.
“We are really excited for K.J.,” she said. “He has made his decision. I was a total wreck when the fans were shouting ‘one more year’ at the last home game. There was a man sitting next to me who told me to get him to come back, and I told him that wasn’t my decision to make.”
McDaniels has been listed in many recent mock drafts as a first round pick. However, he is listed lower in the first round, and Shawn McDaniels said that this decision is nowhere close to the decisions the family had to make during K.J.’s recruiting process.
“It’s nowhere near the same,” she said. “It’s life-changing, unreal, something like a dream come dream true with a decision like this. In choosing whether to go to Alabama or Auburn or Clemson or Florida, it wasn’t that big a decision because we knew we would see him every weekend. We knew he would still be a part of the family, and he would have his bedroom at home. But this decision is ten times bigger than we thought it would be. It is like getting married or having a baby. This is the decision that we have on the table right now. “
She then said that the family credited Clemson head coach Brad Brownell and assistants Earl Grant and Mike Wienecki with K.J.’s development while also saying that her son inherited his father’s basketball genes – Kevin, Sr., played at South Alabama from 1989-91.
“K.J. inherited his dad’s basketball talent,” she said. “You should have seen him in college. People who knew him said he could have played in the NBA, but he didn’t have the right people behind him. K.J. inherited his dad’s talent, and then he surpassed his dad’s talent when he went to Clemson. Coach Brownell and Coach Grant and Coach Wienecki saw something special in him, and they tapped into that and they made him who he is. He has a natural, God-given talent, and they tapped into that and they have taken it to the next level.”
Shawn said that the hardest part of her son’s decision has been whether or not to leave his teammates.
“It’s a tough decision. He doesn’t want to leave his coaches or his teammates,” she said. “That’s the decision he has to make. We have told him he doesn’t have to worry about us financially, because we are okay that way. He just has to make the decision that is right for him and follow his dreams. It’s not about the money for him.”
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org