Zion Williamson isn’t the type of basketball prospect Clemson typically lands.
The 247Sports composite rankings date back 15 years to 2003. During that time, the Tigers have signed one five-star recruit and six top 100 prospects.
Yet, Clemson is viewed as the favorite to land Williamson, the No. 3 overall recruit in the country, heading into his 8 p.m. Saturday announcement at Spartanburg Day School.
There are 23 predictions for where Williamson will commit to on 247Sports’ website, and 83 percent of them have him choosing the Tigers.
There are several reasons for optimism for Clemson heading into what could be a program-changing commitment.
For one, the Tigers have been recruiting Williamson longer than anyone. Before Williamson was making regular appearances on SportsCenter and drawing worldwide attention for his high-flying dunks, Clemson gave him his first scholarship offer following his ninth-grade year.
The Tigers started heavily recruiting Williamson in 2015 and have constantly been doing so since. Clemson got him on campus early in his high school career and made him comfortable with the coaching staff and players in the program at that time.
Getting in early on Williamson also helped the Tigers build a strong relationship with his family.
Williamson’s stepdad, Lee Anderson, played for Clemson and is close with the Tigers’ staff, as is Williamson’s mother, Sharonda Sampson.
Family and loyalty is very important to Williamson, which is one reason he spent his entire high school career at Spartanburg Day School. That also could work to Clemson’s advantage.
Several big-name prep basketball schools encouraged Williamson to finish his high school career with them, but the forward declined, opting to stay with family and friends in Spartanburg.
Clemson also has sold Williamson on being able to make history with the Tigers.
North Carolina, another school Williamson is considering, has dozens of jerseys hanging in the rafters of All-Americans who played for the Tar Heels.
Clemson has only a handful of All-Americans and is selling Williamson on having the opportunity to be the greatest player in Tigers history.
Getting off to a strong start this season also could be beneficial for Clemson.
The Tigers are 15-3 (4-2) and ranked in the top 20, and will return a solid team next season.
Clemson will have a veteran point guard in Shelton Mitchell, shooting guard in Marcquise Reed and big man in Elijah Thomas next season, and those three, along with Williamson, could make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Reed leads the Tigers in scoring, averaging 16 points per game, while Mitchell and Thomas are also scoring in double figures. Thomas also leads Clemson in rebounds, averaging nearly eight per game.
When you add it all together, don’t be surprised if it is Clemson that lands Williamson when he announces his decision Saturday night.