Nicolas Claxton sat behind the podium in his high school gym on Monday, ready to announce where he would continue his playing career at the collegiate level.
Claxton and his family unzipped their jackets, becoming decked out in Georgia gear and the crowd applauded. Claxton decided to spend his next chapter of his life in Athens. With Baylor, N.C. State and South Carolina amongst his final contenders, Claxton decided to stay within his family roots.
Nicolas is the son of Charles Claxton, who had an impressive career himself with the Bulldogs, averaging 12.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game in four seasons. Charles was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 50th-overall selection in the 1994 NBA Draft. But utilizing a short-lived rule, Charles chose to stay in college for the 1994-95 season and was signed by the Boston Celtics after his final year. He got a taste of playing in the NBA prior to playing most of his professional career overseas.
When putting pen to paper, the impact of the scholarship on his family gives some significance to Nicolas’ signature. And now, he looks to follow in his father’s footsteps.
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"It feels great knowing that my parents won't have to pay for my education. It's saving them a whole lot of money and it's truly a blessing," Claxton said.
While he may not stand at 7 feet tall as his father does, Nicolas’ latest high school stat line is eerily resembling that of his father’s back in 1994. In his junior season, Claxton, as a wing player, averaged 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and three blocks per game, with one more campaign to go at the prep level.
Charles’ success throughout the basketball ranks has rubbed off on his son, and Nicolas is thankful for his teachings throughout the years.
"He has helped me a lot and he really instilled confidence in my game and has always believed in me," Claxton said. "And as a result of my dad playing there, I’ve been a Bulldogs fan my whole life and it definitely played a big part in my decision."
Claxton is rated as a three-star recruit, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings. The 6-foot-9, 195-pound wing player ranks as the 42nd-overall small forward nationally and the third-overall prospect in the state of South Carolina.
"(Nicolas) is a terrific shooter and passer for a player with his length," Georgia head coach Mark Fox said in a press release. "He really is going to be a good inside-outside scoring threat. I know he is excited about playing at his parents’ alma mater."
Aside from the obvious factor of his father playing with the program, Claxton chose Georgia over other reputable programs due to the relationship he’s built with one of Fox’s assistants. Claxton was heavily recruited by Georgia assistant Jonas Hayes, who made the final move to land the Greenville, South Carolina native.
Hayes’ efforts helped lead Claxton to believe Athens was the best destination for his future.
"It's where I feel the most comfortable and I feel like Coach Fox and the staff will put me in a situation to succeed right away," Claxton said.
Claxton is the second addition to the 2017 recruiting class, joining four-star forward Rayshaun Hammonds as early signees throughout the past week.
Claxton has been a star for his Legacy Charter team for a while but is well aware that he and Hammonds will have to battle for early playing time once he gets to college.
"We're going to have to go in there and prove that we belong. Nothing will be given to (Rayshaun and I)," Claxton said. "I feel like if I go out there and produce and work hard then I'll have to play."