CHARLOTTE — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has not soured on loaning out his football players.
Clemson announced last week that record-setting freshman receiver DeAndre Hopkins will join the undermanned basketball team following Friday's Meineke Car Care Bowl. Rather than reluctantly agree to have one of Clemson's few offensive threats play basketball, Swinney said Monday he brokered the two-sport arrangement.
"I thought (Hopkins) was kind of nervous to ask me about it, so I initiated the conversation with him," Swinney said. "It was something we talked about when we recruited him, but I think he was relieved when I brought it up because it was something he really wanted to try."
One could understand if Swinney had grown wary of two-sport arrangements, as Clemson is losing starting quarterback Kyle Parker to pro baseball after the bowl game. Parker departs campus with two remaining years of football eligibility, while having played three years of baseball at Clemson for no scholarship cost to Jack Leggett, thanks to Parker's football aid.
Despite the risk of injury, and keeping Hopkins away from football for several months, Swinney said he is on board with Hopkins helping Brad Brownell's undermanned basketball team - provided Hopkins plays.
"I talked to Brad, they just don't have many guys right now," Swinney said.
"(Hopkins) is a really talented basketball player and if he can help them out down the stretch, then go play. This is Clemson University. You want to see all your sports do well. If I got a guy that can help them win, then go do it. But if he is going to be over there and not really playing or having a role, then he needs to get back over here.
"He gets the opportunity to realize a dream."
Hopkins was a two-sport star and all-state basketball selection at Daniel High. The athletic 6-2 Hopkins said he was not recruited by former Clemson basketball coach Oliver Purnell, and says few thought he had the ability to play college basketball at the ACC level.
Hopkins says he is most comfortable at point guard but said he has "no idea" what his role will be when he joins the basketball team Jan. 2 against The Citadel.
Hopkins does want to play.
"They asked me if I wanted to play, and I kind of had it in the back in my mind," Hopkins said. "But I didn't want to have to talk about playing basketball all the time during football season. I talked to (Swinney) first.
Then (Swinney) came to me (after speaking with Brownell)."
Hopkins says he has played in pick-up basketball games on campus with Clemson players.
"I've played with a couple guys on the team at the practice facility."
Hopkins said. "I fit in pretty well."
Swinney said basketball is easier to juggle with football than a baseball schedule, which overlaps with spring football practice.
"They'll figure all that stuff out," Swinney said. "We are going to get him back in the weight room, have a big summer and spring training. It's really easier in basketball than baseball."