#41 Clemson Men's Basketball Preview

Clemson Tigers

Overall Rank: #41
Conference Rank: #5 ACC
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2010-11: 22-12, 9-7
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Brad Brownell (22-12 at Clemson, 189-97 overall)

Coach Brad Brownell has a history of going to the NCAA Tournament during his first season with a new team. He did it at UNC Wilmington in 2003, Wright State in 2007 and Clemson last season. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Coach Brownell did not take his team to the NCAA Tournament during his second or third season with a team. However, that may change this year as the Tigers look to build off of their success last season. For that to happen, Andre Young will need to emerge as a leader on the floor. The 5-9 senior was overshadowed by Demontez Stitt last season, but now Young will have to run the show and pick up his scoring. Young is certainly ready to do that after averaging 11.1 points and 3.0 assists in 2010-2011. Young is a superb outside shooter and an even better defender and this team will go as far as he can take them.
Who’s Out:
The loss of Stitt is a big one. He led the Tigers with 14.5 points and 3.3 assists. He also allowed Young to spend most of his time off of the ball where he could be the team’s primary long range shooter. The loss of Cory Stanton, who transferred to Lipscomb, Noel Johnson and Zavier Anderson leaves Clemson with a limited amount of experienced depth on the perimeter. The other loss is Jerai Grant. As a senior, the 6-8 forward averaged 12.4 points and a team high 6.7 rebounds. Coach Brownell has plenty of big men left on this roster, but Grant was a bruiser in the paint and the most consistent scoring big man.

Who’s In:
Coach Brownell has brought in four wings to help provide depth on the perimeter, but the best newcomer is power forward Bernard Sullivan. The 6-7, 225 pound Gastonia, North Carolina product is a fine athlete who can get up and down the floor. He is a strong rebounder and will work hard on defense, like everybody under Coach Brownell. He should find a spot in the regular rotation. However, the four new perimeter players will have more minutes available. K.J. McDaniels is the likely contender for a starting job at the small forward position. He is a great athlete who can jump out of the gym. It may take him some time to get into the groove of Clemson basketball, but McDaniels is the freshman who can make the biggest impact on the perimeter. Devin Coleman, Rod Hall and T.J. Sapp will all be in the mix for minutes as well since there are few other options.

Who to Watch:
Milton Jennings might just be the best player on the Clemson team, but he did not start to show it until late last season. There has been a lot of hype around the 6-9 junior during his first two collegiate seasons, but for the most part he has failed to live up to his potential. Jennings started just four games in 2010-2011, but he did average 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds and was playing his best basketball in March. If Jennings can remain consistent, he will team up with Devin Booker to form one of the best frontcourts in the ACC. Booker is not a dominating post player, but he is pretty steady and he can do the dirty work while Jennings turns into the main interior scoring threat.

Final Projection:
Tanner Smith will join Young in the starting backcourt again in 2011-2012. Smith is not a big time scorer, but he can play the role Young did last season…complimenting the more dynamic guard on the roster. Smith is a quality ball handler, a fine defender and has enough size to play the two or the three spot. Smith did start at the small forward position last season, but he will likely spend most of his time at the shooting guard position this time around. Bryan Narcisse is the only returning option at small forward. He will likely compete with McDaniels for the starting gig. Narcisse, a 6-6 senior, will not put up big numbers and will probably come in off the bench eventually, but he is a hard working player who will need to play a little more this season. If he can help add quality depth and fill the need at small forward, this is a Clemson squad that can make it five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Andre Young, Senior, Guard, 11.1 points per game
Tanner Smith, Senior, Guard, 7.8 points per game
Bryan Narcisse, Senior, Forward, 2.9 points per game
Milton Jennings, Junior, Forward, 8.3 points per game
Devin Booker, Junior, Center, 8.1 points per game

Madness 2011 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#102 Bernard Sullivan

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