CLEMSON - Two years ago Clemson head basketball coach Larry Shyatt stole
forward Chris Hobbs from Tobacco Road by remaining loyal to his scholarship
offer, even as other nationally-ranked schools backed off the Chapel Hill native after
he suffered a torn ACL.
Tuesday, word came that Shyatt may have landed Clemson the deadly outside
shooter the team desperately needs, and he appears to have done so under
strikingly similar circumstances.
Julian Bet'ko, a 6-foot-5 Slovakian swingman who played last season at Sharon
(Pa.) High School, verbally committed to Clemson Tuesday afternoon. Bet'ko,
who was being pursued by the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State and
Virginia, visited Clemson Sunday and Monday.
He said the reasons for choosing Clemson were simple.
"First, I like the coaches. I really do," Bet'ko said. "Then all you have to
say is three letters - ACC. That's all a player really wants. Then I visited
and I loved the campus and the people."
Bet'ko averaged 20 points per game and shot 59 percent from the 3-point line
this season. His year was limited to just eight games because of a stress
fracture in his foot suffered in the season-opener.
Despite generally playing well after returning for the last seven games of
the season, Kansas and Kentucky wanted to see him play in an April All-Star
game before extending offers. This after Kansas coach Roy Williams visited
Bet'ko at least three times.
Shyatt, however, rolled the dice - much like he did with Hobbs - and appears
to have come away with another winner.
"I think the other schools missed the boat," said Jim Hoy, Bet'ko's high
school coach. "Ohio State saw him play great one game and they were all over
him. Then he had one bad game, and they walked away.
"It's going to be their loss, believe me. I've worked the 5 Star Camps for
the last 11 years and I've seen all the great shooters, guys like Glenn
Rice...all of them. Julian is the best shooter I've ever seen. Ever. It goes
beyond work ethic. He truly has a gift."
And even if Kansas, Kentucky or anyone else were to offer him a scholarship
in April, Bet'ko said Clemson fans have nothing to fear.
"I'm a moral person. I will not change my mind," he said.
Hoy's relationship with Clemson assistant Matt Driscoll gave the Tigers the
inside track on Bet'ko. Driscoll was a former assistant for Hoy at Northgate
(Pa.) High School, and was the first coach to receive a call about Bet'ko.
Once the Tigers had a scholarship come available, thanks to the departure of
Jemere Hendricks during last season, Shyatt, Driscoll and Co. went hard after
Bet’ko would be the third member of the 2002-2003 freshman class. Clemson
signed 6-9 forward Akin Akingbala of Greenwich, Conn. and 6-2 guard Shawan
Robinson of Raleigh, N.C. in the early signing period.
The spring signing period opens April 10.