Legacy Charter (Greenville, S.C.) participated in a pre-New Year’s holiday tournament at Salisbury University (Salisbury, Md.), giving the school’s junior forward, Nicolas Claxton, a chance to check out one of his foremost college suitors. The 6-foot-9 wing, who is the son of former Georgia star Charles Claxton, took in the University of Maryland for the first time Dec. 27.
The 2017 recruit received a UMD offer in early October and had been eager to visit ever since.
“It was a great first experience. I had a great time at the game, meeting the coaches and seeing the facilities,” said Claxton, who holds early verbals from UMD, Baylor, Wake Forest, USC, Arizona, FSU, Georgia, Clemson, South Carolina and others. “We play three games up here and leave [the state of Maryland] on [Dec. 31], but before we played our team was invited to Maryland. We all had a great time, and the coaches showed us a good time too.”
Claxton, along with his team, sat behind the Terps’ bench for Maryland’s 87-67 dismantling of Marshall. The recruit said he loved watching the likes of current UMD players Robert Carter, Diamond Stone and Rasheed Sulaimon in action, while he readily took to the Xfinity Center atmosphere.
“I just loved it there. All the fans and their energy, especially for it being a holiday, it was great,” Claxton said. “The arena was one of the best I’ve seen, and I really liked the locker room, the coaches’ room and the weight room too. It was all very impressive; I could see myself there, definitely.”
Claxton did not have an opportunity to meet the Terps themselves, but he did chat with head coach Mark Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark. It was Clark who first identified Claxton as a potential target back on the summer AAU circuit, the 6-9 budding star showing out with the Under Armour-based SC Raptors Elite.
“Coach Clark is a really good coach. We text weekly, and he just checks in to see how I’m doing,” Claxton said. “Coach Clark is actually coming to my game [Dec. 28], and he says he likes the way I play and am developing. I like him, and I like Coach Turgeon too. [Turgeon] was telling me he was really happy I came up to see the game, and he’d love to have me back in the future. I’m going to try to get up there again once my season is over.”
In general, Claxton said the Terps have caught his eye. He’s seen them on TV multiple times and has been studying their style since pulling the offer in October.
“I like how Maryland moves the ball, gets open shots for their guys and plays freely,” Claxton said. “It’s a good system that I think I’d fit well into. And it’s not too far from home, my family can see my games, and it’s a really nice campus. It’s a good school too, and I like that a lot.”
It’s still early in the process for Claxton, however. The only other program’s he’s taken in thus far are Clemson and his father’s alma mater, Georgia. (For what it’s worth, Claxton said he’s not inclined to head to Georgia just because his dad went there).
Plus Claxton has been hearing from numerous coaches who could be ready to offer, which could alter the recruit’s thinking.
“I’d say Georgetown is recruiting me hard and could be next to offer,” said Claxton, who is unsure which campuses he’ll be checking out next. “And I hear the most from Maryland, Wake Forest and recently Arizona. There are a lot of schools coming at me. I don’t really have any favorites right now, but I like all the schools in touch with me.”
While Claxton’s size would suggest power forward, he said he projects as a wing or “3” in college. Which makes sense considering he came up as a point guard before a growth spurt (seven inches in a year) relegated him to the post.
“I see myself as a ‘3’ at the next level. I can handle the ball, and I’m doing a lot better shooting,” Claxton said. “The main thing for me is staying aggressive and just getting my shot more consistent. But I think I’m doing better, and I’m getting there defensively too.”
Note: It remains to be seen how hard the Terps will ultimately push for Claxton's services. While the South Carolina native holds an offer, the Maryland staff likely has forward targets such as Billy Preston (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas), Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.), Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.) and one or two others higher on the board.