Auburn (Ala.) senior shoots and defends well on basketball court
By Greg Bates
Special to Midwest Collegiate Prospects
Bryson Clague was living the dream early in his high school career.
He was a starting guard on the Grafton (Wisconsin) boys’ basketball varsity squad and well as earning starts on the football team as a wide receiver and safety. Clague shined in his first two seasons.
Then the unexpected came: his dad was getting relocated for work and the Clague family was moving to Auburn, Alabama in June 2019.
“I’m going to be honest, at first just never moving in my life before or anything like that and I’ve lived in Grafton for 16 years, so I was pretty used to it there. I was comfortable,” Clague said. “When I heard I was moving, I was honestly kind of shocked and a little bit sad. But once I got down here, I fell in love with Auburn. I really like it a lot. I feel like I fit in well and I feel like it’s been a good move. Honestly, if anything, it’s probably helped me out a little bit.”
Yes, it’s certainly helped Clague become a stronger athlete in basketball and football. Clague, who is now a senior at Auburn High School, is being recruited by Division I schools in both sports.
“It’s fun doing two different things and honestly just an honor to have colleges looking at me in both sports,” Clague said. “I love doing both of them and I love playing them.”
Most college coaches that Clague has been in touch with ask him what sport he is looking at playing at the next level. That’s always a tough question for the 17-year-old.
“I’m starting to lean more towards basketball, if I can continue to get the looks that I am right now from the summer that I had,” Clague said. “If football ends up working out and I end up getting some high offers, I would definitely change to football.”
It’s great to have options.
Stepping into the Auburn boys’ basketball program was big for Clague. He earned a starting role as a junior and was an integral part in his team finishing 18-11.
“He fit in so well,” Auburn boys’ basketball coach Chris Brandt said. “That’s one of the things is acceptance from the team that had previously. You never know how they’re going to respond to somebody new moving in and they just took him in and he fit right in with them. If you’re a player and you can play and you have a great attitude about your game and about others, which he does, it was a huge boost for us. He’s a total blessing on my point of view, and he’s going to be one of the huge points of us winning this year.”
After scoring 9.6 points as a freshman and 9.8 as a sophomore, it took a little time for Clague to get acclimated to the Auburn system as he finished with 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a junior.
Coach Brandt said he wasn’t aware until about midseason that Clague had a lingering shoulder injury from football that was hampering his ability on the court. Yet, Clague came to play every night.
“Last year, he had a good year,” Brandt said. “But I’m expecting huge, huge things from him this year just from the fact that when he played on his team for AAU, he was scoring 27 to 30 points and picking up a lot of assists, too.”
At 6-foot-3, Clague plays more of a tweener position at shooting guard/small forward.
Clague calls himself an athletic, fast guard who has good vision and can share the ball and score whenever needed.
“He can shoot the 3, that’s one thing he’s good at,” Brandt said. “But he’s also physical and I’d say that comes a lot from playing football. He’s not afraid to take it to the hole. He uses his body really well in defending off players when he attacks the rim. He’s a physical defender and our style of play is being really physical and really aggressive, so he fits right in with the rest of the team.”
Clague loves to catch and shoot. That’s been successful for him from 3-point range. Getting to the rim, too, is also one of his specialties. But Clague knows he still has plenty of areas in his game he can shore up.
“I need to develop more of a mid-range game,” Clague said. “Even though that’s kind of disappearing in our game today, but that’s one area I need to work on.”
Clague has spent the last two summers playing with the Hawks Elite AAU team out of Birmingham, Ala. Despite the coronavirus pandemic slowing down the AAU season this year, Clague was able to play in seven to eight tournaments around the country. Competing on the AAU circuit down south has really upped Clague’s game.
“I’m really excited to play this high school and I’ll just show how much I’ve improved throughout the AAU season and how much it’s helped me become a better ball-handler, just learning to play with better players,” Clague said.
Brandt has sent Clague’s game film to a number of college coaches. Mid-major Division I programs South Alabama, Samford and Troy have all shown interest in Clague’s prowess on the court.
Clague said he’s also been contacted by Virginia Military Institute.
With the basketball season right around the corner, Clague is ready to show he’s worthy of getting looks from even bigger programs from around the country.
“I think high school season’s going to be super important this year, more important than ever, obviously just because of the pandemic and coaches not being able to see everybody during AAU season,” Clague said.
Brandt knows he’s going to see Clague’s full potential night in and night out on the court this upcoming season.
“I think he’ll take more of a leadership role,” Brandt said. “I think he’ll be more offensive driven to look for it, because I’m forcing him to do that. I’m forcing him to not be selfish, because you don’t want anybody to be selfish. But he needs to look to score more, and I know he will.”