Before junior Nicolas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.) entered high school, he was a 6-foot-2 point guard for his eighth-grade team in Greenville, S.C. An ambidextrous floor general who boasted a mean crossover, Claxton seemed destined for a spot in Legacy Charter High’s backcourt. But then a funny thing happened. Over the span of the next two years, he hit an epic growth spurt, sprouting up seven inches to 6-9.
Needless to say, Claxton’s point guard days were over.
“I guess I should have expected it; my dad is 7-feet,” laughed Claxton, the son of former Georgia star Charles Claxton, who spent parts of three seasons in the NBA with the Suns and Celtics. “Growing seven inches was actually pretty painful, just with my joints and knees. But I got through it, and now I might catch my dad. He doesn’t think so, but we’ll see (laughs).”
It didn’t take long for college recruiters to take note of the 6-9 forward with lead guard skills. During a tournament in Texas his sophomore season, several onlookers marveled at the way he ran the floor, handled the ball, and canned jumpers from 18-feet-plus -- to make no mention of his post moves. Soon thereafter, he secured his first offer from New Orleans, followed later that year by Temple. Eventually the major verbals began trickling in, with Wake Forest, Southern California, Baylor and Florida State all offering during the course of the next year.
“It’s been a blessing, to be honest,” Claxton said. “But I’m trying to remain humble about it and just keep working. My dad, he’s given me great advice sine he’s been through it himself. He told me to trust the process, be patient and just keep playing my game.”
Arguably Claxton’s most significant offer to date materialized Oct. 2. That’s when Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon put in a call to Charles Claxton, letting him know the Terps wanted his son in their program.
Turgeon, along with area recruiter Dustin Clark, watched Claxton at an open gym in late September. The two had heard about the developing forward during the summer evaluation period, but didn’t have a chance to see him live until September.
“When Maryland offered I was very excited,” said Claxton, who has since added a South Carolina offer. “They’re one of the top programs in the nation, so it meant a lot. I spoke with the coaches, and they told me they like my versatility and how I get up and down the floor.”
Growing up in South Carolina, Claxton admittedly didn’t know too much about the Terps’ program, other than their recent NCAA tournament run and their sudden rise in the ranks. But after procuring the offer and meeting Turgeon and Clark in person, he’s eager to learn more.
“I watched Maryland a few times and I like how they play. The freedom the players have, I like that a lot,” Claxton said. “And the coaches, I really liked them. They made me feel very comfortable when I spoke to them. Hopefully I get to know them more.”
Next up, scheduling his first trip to College Park, Md. Claxton is unsure when he’ll be able to trek north, but it could happen when Legacy Charter plays in a tournament in Baltimore later this fall.
“Of course I want to get up to Maryland. I’m very interested in seeing what the school is like,” Claxton said. “I want to get to Maryland, Wake Forest, Baylor and Florida State. I haven’t taken any visits yet, so those will be my first ones. Those are four of the schools kind of sticking out to me right now.”
In addition to those four offerees, Claxton is receiving interest from Georgia, Georgetown, NC State and Missouri, among others.
“There’s not one school in particular I’m looking for to get an offer from,” said Claxton, who mentioned location isn’t a major factor for him. “I mean, I grew up a Georgia fan because of my dad, but now that I’m getting recruited I have to find the best fit and system for me. I’m really open right now.”
As far as his game is concerned, Claxton said he’s still developing his raw skills. That said, he believes he has plenty of marketable qualities that should play well at the next level.
“I have a pretty nice jump shot, I can post up, and I can dribble thanks to my days playing point guard,” said Claxton, who plays for Under Armour-based AAU squad SC Raptors Elite. “I can play three different positions, and I think I do a good job playing hard on defense too, and I’m more of a leader now this year. But I need to get stronger and be more aggressive.”