Damon Stoudamire’s ‘different vision’ brings in transfer Tyzhaun Claude

Former Western Carolina forward Tyzhaun Claude announced his transfer to Georgia Tech April 23, 2023. (Mark Haskett/Western Carolina Athletics)

Credit: Mark Haskett

Credit: Mark Haskett

Former Western Carolina forward Tyzhaun Claude announced his transfer to Georgia Tech April 23, 2023. (Mark Haskett/Western Carolina Athletics)

When Tyzhaun Claude came to Georgia Tech for his recruiting visit late last week, coach Damon Stoudamire had a video presentation ready for him.

The former Boston Celtics assistant coach showed Claude plays run by Celtics big men such as Robert Williams and Al Horford.

“And then the very next clip, it’d be me doing something similar,” Claude told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And it was crazy that he took the time out to find plays that were exactly alike.”

Stoudamire was showing Claude, a 6-foot-8 former Western Carolina forward who went into the transfer portal March 20, the vision that he has for him in his final season of eligibility. Claude liked what he saw and announced his commitment Sunday.

“I feel like coach Stoudamire had a different vision from any other coach I talked to, and the vision he had matched up with some of the goals I had for myself and things I wanted to do to expand my game,” Claude said.

Claude became the third player to commit to Tech out of the transfer portal since Stoudamire’s hire, following forward Ebenezer Dowuona (N.C. State) and guard Kowacie Reeves (Florida). Claude, from Goldsboro, North Carolina, played his first two seasons at Morehead State, averaging 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Last season, after transferring to Western Carolina, he averaged 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while shooting 52.3% from the field and earned third-team All-Southern Conference honors. He will come to Tech as a grad transfer this summer (and have immediate eligibility) after earning his diploma from Western Carolina.

Claude’s commitment to Tech – he visited Grand Canyon, had been in talks with Georgia, Providence and Tulsa and had heard from ACC schools N.C. State, Wake Forest and Clemson – underscored again the value of Stoudamire’s NBA experience in recruiting.

“I know he has a lot of knowledge for the game that I can learn from, him playing 13 years in the NBA and, of course, coaching in the NBA, and he also did a good job at Pacific,” Claude said. “He was a great player, and he’s a great coach, so I’m just excited to soak up everything I can learn from him.”

Claude mentioned perimeter shooting as a facet of his game that he wanted to develop. At Western Carolina, he took six 3-pointers in 31 games, making two of them. Besides showing the interspersed clips with Celtics big men, Stoudamire also highlighted weaknesses in Claude’s game and “things he wants me to improve on,” Claude said. “So that stood out. That showed he’s willing to coach me.”

Claude said that there really wasn’t a school that he chose Tech over.

“Just the love Georgia Tech showed me, that’s just what I was looking for,” he said. “I just couldn’t miss out on that.”

It was expressed, Claude said, through an “at-home feeling” as soon as he and his father, Tori, got off the plane. New assistant coach Pershin Williams and operations director Tyler Benson also took part in hosting Claude and his father, Claude said.

Typically, “any coach will tell you what you want to hear to get you to go there,” Claude said. “But I feel like coach Stoudamire was very genuine in his pitch to get me to come. I just feel like I’ll love it here.”