Clemson and Virginia are deeply connected to junior scorer A.J. Oliver

Call it a homecourt advantage. Junior wing A.J. Oliver has a close family connection to Clemson, where his mother, Audra Smith, is the women’s team head coach. He holds close connections to Virginia as well, given that both his mother and his father, Anthony Oliver, played for the Cavaliers in the early 1990s.

But A.J. Oliver is a prospect even without knowing anything about his bloodlines. The 6-4 junior guard was one of the top performers at last weekend’s SC Top 80 and projects as a major conference target for college.

Oliver’s game combines sharpshooting and improving scoring tools off the dribble. Based upon his own recognition and experience accumulated competing with the Upward Stars 2017s this past summer, he understands both his strengths and needs for improvement.

”Shooting has kind of been my thing since I was a little kid, “ Oliver said. “All I would do is shoot, shoot, shoot, and now I’m working on my overall game and trying to get more explosive. I’m also working on ballhandling and defense.”

While he needs to pack muscle onto his slight frame, Oliver’s long-term potential could result in a starting position for a major conference program. He has two more years to gain strength and add dimensions to his offensive arsenal, and his hard work has attracted increasing attention from college coaches.

”My offers are College of Charleston, USC-Upstate, Wofford, Old Dominion, Clemson and some others,” Oliver said. “Some other interest is LSU, Virginia, Oregon, UCLA, Texas TechGeorgetown and Wake Forest.”

Oliver attended a camp at UVa and has visited Clemson, Richmond and Charleston unofficially. He also has additional trips set up for this fall.

”I’ll be going back to Clemson for the Notre Dame game (this weekend),” he said. “Coaches usually talk to my folks, but some of them call me. Oregon called me a week ago to say how much they like me and want me to come up for an unofficial visit. I’ll be going there for an unofficial around Thanksgiving.”

Given his talent and intensifying recruitment, Oliver will be a mainstay of our coverage for the junior class.


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