#40 Clemson: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic Coast Conference
2009-10: 21-11, 9-7
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Brad Brownell (First year at Clemson, 167-85 overall)
Wherever Coach Brad Brownell goes, success follows. In four years at UNC Wilmington, Coach Brownell led his team to two NCAA Tournaments. He then spent four years at Wright State where he won at least 20 games all four seasons. With the talent he has, and can get, at Clemson, the Tigers future looks very bright. The present does not look too bad either as this team returns enough talent to make another NCAA Tournament.
Key Losses: F Trevor Booker, F David Potter
The only losses are forwards Trevor Booker and David Potter, but Clemson has enough young talent in the paint to cover for them. Thus, the lone newcomer for Clemson is point guard Cory Stanton, who followed Coach Brownell from Wright State. Stanton is a scoring point guard and should see some minutes this year and take over the starting gig next season.
Demontez Stitt will handle the point guard duties this year. The 6-2 senior committed a few too many turnovers last season, but he also turned into a very dangerous scorer. As an underclassman, Stitt was not a good shooter at all, but during the 2009-2010 campaign he connected on 39.3 percent of his attempts from long range. That turned him into a very tough player to defend and Stitt will blow by any defenders who are forced to cover him out to the arc. Tanner Smith started beside Stitt last season and is a solid, and underappreciated, player. Smith does not do anything particularly great, but he does everything quite well. Andre Young ranked third on the team in scoring despite only starting three games. If Clemson wants to play smaller, Young should fit into the shooting guard role. That would give the Tigers another shooter and ball handler in the backcourt and Smith is big enough to be a decent rebounder at the small forward position.
The frontcourt returns Jerai Grant who averaged 7.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks last season. The 6-8, 230 pound senior will have to take over the leadership role in the paint now that Booker and Potter are gone. Grant can certainly boost his stats, but he will need some help and who better to replace Booker than his little brother, Devin Booker. The younger Booker only averaged 11.6 minutes per game during his freshman campaign, but in that limited playing time he averaged 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest. Those are some very impressive numbers considering his limited playing time. If he can keep that up and play closer to 30 minutes per contest, the Tigers frontcourt will be in great shape.
Who to Watch:
The starting five looks to be in good shape and the key to this team could be the development of a couple of sophomores. Noel Johnson, a 6-6 wing, averaged 4.8 points off the bench last year and could turn into the shooter this team needs to spark the offense if Young steps into a starting role. In the frontcourt Milton Jennings is the wildcard. The 6-9 forward was a highly regarded recruit, but failed to live up to expectations during his freshman campaign. With a year of experience under his belt he should be a key player on this team, perhaps even a starter.
The problem the Tigers may run into is overall team depth. This group will likely go eight deep unless players like Bryan Narcisse and Donte Hill can really step up their game. But one injury at an inopportune time could be a big problem for Coach Brownell and the Tigers. The eight players who should see a majority of the minutes are a good team with a nice mix of experience and potential. Add Coach Brownell to the mix and the Tigers could start overachieving instead of underachieving and that means another trip to the big dance.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Demontez Stitt, Senior, Guard, 11.4 ppg
Andre Young, Junior, Guard, 9.2 ppg
Tanner Smith, Junior, Guard, 8.7 ppg
Jerai Grant, Senior, Forward, 7.2 ppg
Devin Booker, Senior, Forward, 4.5 ppg
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