Smart will Use Current Recruiting Ties

CLEMSON – Admittedly, Shaka Smart has his hands full in replacing Clemson basketball recruiting coordinator Kevin Nickelberry, who was one of the more successful recruiters the school has ever had.

"I ran into Kevin at the (basketball) banquet (Saturda), and I said, ‘I've got some big shoes to fill,' and he said, ‘That's alright, you've got big feet,' " Smart said at his formal introduction to the media Wednesday.

"I've been doing this awhile and I'm going to stick with the formula that's worked – just working hard and doing the best job that I can and trying to be the best team member I can be.

"I think things will work out if I do that."

Smart is very familiar with Clemson coach Oliver Purnell. The two worked together a couple of years at Dayton.

Smart also followed Purnell to Clemson to become director of basketball operations. However, that only lasted a little more than a month when Smart accepted an assistant's job at Akron.

Because of that familiarity, Smart's was Purnell's top and really only choice. Purnell approached Smart at the Final Four and asked him if he was interested in coming to Clemson.

"The bottom line is there is no unknown," Purnell said. "That's whey he is No. 1 on the list."

And with the arrival of Smart, 29, the recruiting duties will now be handled slightly different from when Nickelberry was with the Tigers.

For the most part, Nickelberry did nearly all of Clemson's recruiting, with spot duty from the rest of the assistants. Now, recruiting will be distributed among the three assistants more, though Smart will still be the primary recruiter.

Also changing is the area of concentration. Nickelberry primarily worked from South Carolina to Maryland.

"I'll be dealing a lot in the Midwest, but we're going to try and team-recruit a lot of people and we're going to recruit nationally," Smart said. "We're going to be in the Midwest, as well as the East Coast and you've got to take care of home.

"I plan to be all over the place, but I do have a lot of ties in the Midwest.

The good news for Clemson fans is that recruiting is something at which Smart has excelled. During his three years at Akron, the Zips improved steadily, which culminated with the school's first-ever Division I postseason tournament win this year with a win at Temple in the first round of the NIT.

"Akron certainly was a challenge in terms of recruiting," Smart said. "When we got there, they were at the lower end of the Mid-American Conference and we were able to bring in some very good players that they haven't been able to get in the past. I think it's similar for me in terms of trying to go out and recruit a high caliber of kid." Top Stories