Clemson, SC --Clemson Head Coach Larry Shyatt has announced the signing of
three players to national letters of intent. The Clemson newcomers for
the 2001-02 season include Sharrod Ford, a 6-9, 210-pound forward from
Accokeek, MD; Olu Babalola, a 6-6, 245-pound forward from London England;
and Chey Christie, a 6-4, 170-pound wing player from Biloxi, MS.
"We are excited to add these quality players to our program," said
Shyatt, who is in his third year as Clemson's Head Coach. "We covered some
important needs. It is a balanced class with one player at each area of
the team. This gives us back-to back top 20 recruiting classes and gives
us some depth as we look to the future." Hoop Scoop currently ranks
Clemson's class as #18 in the country.
Christie is the brother of former Clemson starting forward Tony
Christie. One of the top scorers in the state of South Carolina, he is
currently at Biloxi High School in Biloxi, MS. He opened his senior
season with a 30-point game on Wednesday night. Last year as a junior,
Christie averaged 25.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He shot 55
percent from the field and 78 percent from the foul line. He is ranked as
the 37th best player in the nation according to Hoop Scoop.
"Christie is an athletic perimeter player who has outstanding
scoring potential," said Shyatt. "We are obviously familiar with his
family and we feel he will be a terrific addition to our program. He gives
us versatility on the perimeter."
Babalola is a native of London, England, but is playing at St.
Augustine Prep in Richland, NJ this year. Last year he averaged 18.8
points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He shot 58 percent from the field and
averaged 2.8 rebounds a game. He was a third-team All-State selection in
New Jersey last year.
"Olu was not as well known as some because he did not attend some
of the bigger summer camps," said Shyatt. We are glad he didn't. He has
the size and power of a football player, but he has more grace and shooting
ability than people realize."
Ford is an inside player at Hargrave Military academy in Chatham,
VA. He played his previous four years at Gwynn Park High in Brandywine,
MD. Last year he shot 58 percent from the field, averaged 15.8 points and
11.9 rebounds per game. He also blocked 6.6 shots per game, including a
season high of 11 in one game. he was named a first-team All-Metro
selection by the Washington Post.
"Ford brings size and athleticism to our frontline," said Shyatt.
"He is a shot blocker who can really run the floor. He is ranked among the
top five inside players at the prep school level."
11/15/2000 - Men's Basketball Adds Fourth Signee
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."