Clemson lost "mile-and-a-half lead" in Zion sweepstakes
|Saturday, January 20, 2018, 9:20 PM- -|
SPARTANBURG – Zion Williamson said he was going to shock the world and in a way, he did just that Saturday night when he announced his commitment to the Duke Blue Devils.
All indications pointed to the nation’s second-ranked recruit and Spartanburg (SC) Day forward choosing Clemson in front of a national television audience, but instead he picked Duke, joining two of the nation’s other top prospects. Williamson chose Duke over Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas.
Lee Anderson – Williamson’s step-father and former Clemson basketball player – met with the media after the announcement – and said that even as late as Friday night, the high school phenom had yet to really make up his mind.
“Zion woke up and he made a decision. That was all there was to it. Zion actually told me last night that he was going to flip a coin and go through four schools,” Anderson told TigerNet Saturday evening. “That's how close it was. Nobody did a bad job. I think everybody did a great job and I applaud all of them. All of them finished second. It was a tie.”
The decision was Williamson’s to make and Anderson said that while he gave his input he let his step-son know that he would be happy with whatever school he chose.
“He's making the best choice for Zion. Like Zion said, it was difficult to choose. As of last night, he still didn't know where he wanted to go,” Anderson said. “Clemson, South Carolina, Duke, North Carolina, those are all schools that he seriously considered. He just had a hard time deciphering where he wanted to go. He asked me and I just told him what I thought was the best choice, but I also told him that I had a son that played for George O'Leary at Central Florida and when he went to the Kansas City Chiefs he simply looked me in the eyes after it was all over and said, 'Dad, I never wanted to play one down of college football but I did it because I thought that's what you wanted me to do.' I promised God that I'd never do that again and that I'd make sure I'd let my kids make their own decisions.”
Anderson said in the end it was nothing that Clemson head coach Brad Brownell and his staff did or didn’t do, but somewhere along the way the Tigers’ lead began to slip away, opening the door for Duke, South Carolina and North Carolina.
“They did everything right. It's nothing against the coaches. Nothing against them at all,” he said. “I told Clemson when they came in the other night, 'Somewhere along the way, you all had a mile and a half lead on the situation. I don't know what happened along the way but you all had a big distance.' The next thing I know I hear Zion saying South Carolina and North Carolina and Duke is inching closer. I was like, 'Woah.' I don't think it was anything they did that was wrong. They recruited him hard. They recruited him fair. They were selling Clemson and I thought they did a great job. I think it was a serious point for them to recruit they way did and they showed Zion they were serious about wanting his services.”
Many thought if Williamson didn’t choose Clemson, he would stay in state with the Gamecocks, and Anderson said it wasn’t for a lack of trying by Gamecocks’ head coach Frank Martin.
“Frank Martin at South Carolina did a heck of a job. When he left the other day, Zion said to me, 'He had a good presentation.' All of the coaches did a great job,” he said.