CLEMSON BASKETBALL

Brownell and the Tigers using Elite Eight run to help with recruiting
Clemson is seeing the fruits of an Elite Eight run off the court in building toward next season.

Brownell and the Tigers using Elite Eight run to help with recruiting


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Things are rolling for head coach Brad Brownell and the Clemson men's basketball team on the recruiting trail, and a run to the Elite Eight has made an impact.

Clemson’s historic NCAA Tournament run ended on the last day of March as the No. 6 Tigers fell to the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide 89-82 in the Elite Eight inside the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The Tigers finished the season with a 24-12 record, the best since 2017-18 (25-10), also a Sweet Sixteen team.

“The Elite Eight run was fantastic. Just so proud of our players. We played really high-level basketball in the tournament,” Brownell said a few weeks ago. “All three games, beat some outstanding teams, teams that were playing very well and had a chance to go the Final Four.”

The Tigers lost Jack Clark, RJ Godfrey, Josh Beadle and Alex Hemenway to the transfer portal, while PJ Hall and Joe Girard have moved on to the next level. That’s a lot of talent to replace, but Brownell has been busy over the last month-plus rebuilding his roster.

We’ve heard that guard Chase Hunter, the catalyst of the NCAA Tournament run, is leaning towards returning, and if he returns, he will join Cincinnati transfer Viktor Lakhin, Duke transfer Christian Reeves, Boston College transfer Jaeden Zackery, and Illinois State transfer Myles Foster.

The good news continued to roll in late in the week when the Tigers landed a commitment from a legacy recruit, as Lake Norman High (Mooresville, N.C.) power forward/center Trent Steinour announced his verbal pledge to Clemson. Steinour is the grandson of Tiger legend Randy Mahaffey, a first-team All-ACC player in 1966-67.

Did the deep NCAA Tournament run help in recruiting?

“It’s helped some, there’s no question that it’s helped,” Brownell said. “With recent success, teams are more familiar with you from the standpoint of, hey, yeah, we just watched you play. It’s not the end all be all, though.

“When you start adding the wins and now put a Sweet Sixteen, and an Elite 8, another tournament run just in the last seven years, you’re starting to separate yourself from a lot of folks and people that you would be surprised.”

Winning isn’t everything in today’s college basketball landscape.

“Everybody’s going to study their situation, and there’s so many factors involved in transfers. Winning is part of it, playing time, NIL, facilities, a chance to play at the next level, academics get in there eventually depending on the age of the kid,” Brownell said. “But it certainly has helped.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and people that have followed us, and when you start to dig in and when you have Zoom conversations with folks and you start putting recent success slides up there, and you start matching it with some other people, folks are surprised that we’ve done as well as we have.”

Things are looking up for the Tigers.

“So, happy there’s a ton of positive momentum with our program. It started last year with the team that won 14 ACC games and Hunter Tyson’s leadership, I think that gave this team a big boost of confidence and carried on through this season,” Brownell said. “Just really happy for our fan base, too, to be able to enjoy that couple of weeks. It was awesome just to look back and see everybody celebrating back here. Really, our heads were down, we were so busy that it was hard to enjoy it at times. You just were working so hard, and even now, still haven’t been able to possibly enjoy it as much as I would like, but just tremendous accomplishments.”

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