Men's Basketball Adds Fourth Signee

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - The last piece to Larry Shyatt's recruiting puzzle fell into place Wednesday evening, just hours before the early signing period came to an end.

Steve Allen, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound senior center at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., faxed his letter of intent to the Clemson athletic department shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, bringing the number of signed recruits this fall to four.

Allen joins Sharrod Ford (6-9, 210), Olu Babalola (6-6, 245) and Chey Christie (6-4, 170) as the incoming freshman class for 2001-2002.

Clemson was one of four schools heavily recruiting Allen, beating out Auburn, West Virginia and Penn State. In fact, Allen visited Auburn last Friday and Saturday and appeared ready to sign with the War Eagles on Sunday.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Shyatt said Wednesday evening. "It's amazing how the recruiting process turns. This kid is 6-10, 235 and growing, and I emphasize growing. He has a great work ethic, though he's not as polished as we would like, or he would like.

"But we followed Steve very closely all summer and really focused on him at the Nike Camp. It's really a thrill to be at Clemson, starting a new era, and signing four guys of this caliber."

Allen averaged 12.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a junior at Dillard. He was honorable mention All-State a year ago, as well as first team All-County and All-Conference.

According to Clark Francis of HoopScoopOnline, Allen's signing jumps Clemson's recruiting class to No. 13 in the nation, tied with N.C. State and Michigan. The only ACC school Francis ranks ahead of Clemson is Virginia at No. 6. Other Top 20 classes from the league include North Carolina (16th) and Georgia Tech (18th).

Francis rates Allen as the 121st best player in the country, well ahead of the other big man Clemson was courting, Marcus Campbell (165). Campbell verbally committed to Clemson, then changed his mind and signed with Mississippi State.

"Allen has a great upside," Francis said Wednesday night. "I don't think he plays hard enough consistently, and I think that's probably because of his environment there in Florida. He doesn't have that ACC toughness yet."

In recent weeks Shyatt has had a difficult time hiding his enthusiasm over the future of the Clemson basketball program.

After finishing 8-20 a year ago, his second season at the Tigers' helm, Shyatt has been beaming over the influx of young, athletic talent on the current team. Freshmen like Tony Stockman, Dwon Clifton and Chris Hobbs - along with junior college transfer Jamar McKnight - have given Clemson many more offensive options to go along with All-ACC guard Will Solomon.

With four new recruits coming next season, coupled with the promised upgrade in facilities, Shyatt foresees a time in the very near future when Clemson can begin to improve on its all-time ACC winning percentage of .342 (224-431).

"With the number of (NBA) lottery picks and seniors in this league, we have the opportunity to make up some ground quickly," Shyatt said. "And I think that played a factor in these four young men coming here. Young people today, and their parents, are very concerned about how long a coaching staff is going to be at the school, or how quickly they can fight for playing time.

"With everything that's going on here, it's exciting to be a part of it. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the next 10 years."

Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at

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