In the 2018 class, South Carolina is home to two of the nation’s top prospects in their respective sports.
Defensive Xavier Thomas of Florence (attending IMG Academy in Florida) already has declared he will sign with either South Carolina or Clemson. And 6-foot-7 forward Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day School is thinking more along those same lines now, according to his stepdad.
“Zion understands what it is to be a South Carolina person,” Lee Anderson said Friday afternoon. “I think he wants to write that story in South Carolina. That’s the way I feel about it. And to tell you the truth, Wofford is up here fighting.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t have a problem with where Zion goes to school. I tell him, ‘You won’t disappoint me if you say you want to go to South Carolina. You won’t disappoint me if you say you want to go to Clemson or Wofford. I don’t care. But just understand, North Carolina and Duke and all those schools, those stories have been written, and all you can do is add a chapter or a page to that. But these schools in South Carolina, those stories are not completed yet.’ ”
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Anderson added that he believes the involved in-state schools, at this point, have just as good a shot at Williamson as Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, the three out-of-state programs he cited as legitimate contenders as they stay open with their process.
“I’m a South Carolina person, an in-state person, that’s what I believe in,” Anderson said. “Of course, mama grew up loving North Carolina. But, we are going to let Zion make his decision.”
There are no recruiting trips planned for Williamson in the immediate future as his AAU schedule is about to kick in. He did make it to games this season at USC, Clemson, Wofford and North Carolina. The Gamecocks and Tigers continue to communicate regularly with the family.
“South Carolina has been in contact with me recently,” Anderson said. “They feel like they have a good shot at this thing. I think when Zion went to Carolina on the visit and they rolled out the love that they did to him, that did something to him. That kind of softened him up. Wherever he was with South Carolina at that time, it softened him up because that’s all he talks about.
“And of course Clemson, he’s so familiar with Clemson because he’s been going up there a lot, even before the recruitment started. Both of the in-state schools, they are in good shape.”
However, making the NCAA Tournament this season does give USC a bonus shot, according to Anderson.
“It’s huge. That’s huge for South Carolina,” he said. “You had the ability to make it this year. That means something is going on pretty good in Columbia. He grew up watching the Dukes and the North Carolinas in the tournament constantly. There was no Clemson or South Carolina in the tournament. With Carolina making it this time, that is huge and I just hope they do well.”