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Hunter Tyson Might Stick in the NBA

We supposed to be ACC

2023 NBA Summer League - Denver Nuggets v New York Knicks Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

I’m not letting anyone in on a secret when I say that Clemson’s men’s basketball team lags behind the football team, or that the woman’s team gets embarrassed by what Dawn Staley has going in Columbia. But lately a pair of Clemson Tigers have begun breaking a long streak. Since Trevor Booker left the Pacers in 2018, there had not been a Tiger to play multiple seasons in the NBA.

That’s not to say there were no professional basketball players produced, just that they were failing to stick at the highest level. K.J. McDaniels, drafted after Booker, managed to play nearly 150 games. He is the only other Clemson player to make it multiple seasons in the NBA in recent memory and was last seen playing in the Philippines for the Meralco Bolts. McDaniels is far from the only Clemson Tiger plying his trade overseas.

Aamir Simms spent last season as the stretch four for Paris Basketball of the LNB Pro A, the French team best known for serving as a purpose-built incubator for Victor Wembanyama and being run by that David Khan. Cliff Hammonds, at the ripe old age of 37, is still hooping in Belgium. Jaron Blossongame and Donte Grantham both got cups of coffee in the NBA after being drafted in 2017 and 2018. Blossongame is now playing for AS Monaco Basket in the French league. Grantham, and you may be noticing a pattern here, plays for SLUC Nancy Basket for LNB Pro A. I have no idea what the connection between France and Clemson basketball is, but it’s getting to be a pipeline.

I admit this next claim is “pre-WWII national title” levels of dubious. But, we’re claiming Olivier-Maxence Prosper, I don’t care that he transferred to Marquette after his freshman season. You tell Marquette to come down to Chicago and talk to me about it if they want to. They got Jimmy Butler, we need what we can get. With that we’re almost out of names from Real GM.

But there’s another Tiger who we don’t need to make caveats for. Hunter Tyson, a five-year contributor and local talent, balled out at the Summer League after being drafted with the 37th pick by the Denver Nuggets. Tyson, if he is going to stick in the league, is likely going to have to do so as a shooter. Shooting 50% from three on thirty-six attempts is a hell of a start, and why Tyson earned first team all summer league, with some commentators giving him an outside shot at summer league MVP.

The Nuggets have been willing to play young players and have minutes to soak up backing up both forward positions. Tyson joins Julian Strawther, Jalen Pickett and last year’s first round pick Christian Braun as part of a contingent of experienced college players, taken in the late first or early second round, that the Nuggets hope to turn into meaningful contributors to build team depth. It’s possible Tyson’s lack of athleticism proves fatal, but if he can keep shooting like he did in Vegas there’s a chance a Tiger has found a home in the league.