#40 Clemson Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Clemson Tigers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #9 ACC
There is a buzz building around the Clemson men’s basketball program as they found a way to win 10 games in ACC conference play despite having to play their home games in Greenville last season. However, starting this November the Tigers return home to a newly renovated Littlejohn Coliseum that will elevate the Clemson program to a more competitive level. In addition, there is plenty of experience and talent returning this season that should help turn the new Littlejohn Coliseum into a strong home court advantage for the Tigers this season.
2015-16 Record: 17-14, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Brad Brownell
Coach Record: 107-87 at Clemson, 274-172 overall
Who’s Out:
Landry Nnoko’s production down low in the post will have to be replaced as Nnoko averaged just over eight points and five rebounds per contest last season while playing 22 minutes per game. So finding someone, or multiple players, to step up their production inside will need to be addressed right away for Coach Brad Brownell. Jordon Roper’s assist to turnover ratio of 3.0 is another void that has to be filled right away.
Who’s In:
Redshirt freshman Elijah Thomas should make an immediate impact down low for the Tigers once he becomes eligible starting in December 2016. Thomas was a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school and should benefit from the fresh start after transferring over from Texas A&M. Marcquise Reed should provide some firepower offensively in the backcourt for Clemson as Reed averaged just over 15 points per game for Robert Morris during the 2014-15 season. Shelton Mitchell, a transfer from Vanderbilt, should provide some depth at the point guard position and be able to provide a solid spark off the bench this season.
Who to Watch:
The trio of Jaron Blossomgame, Donte Grantham and Avry Holmes are going to dictate how far Clemson will go this season. Blossomgame turned down the opportunity to leave early for the NBA and that should only help him develop even further this season for the Tigers. Blossongame is very consistent offensively as he shot 51.3 percent from the floor, while scoring over 18 points per game last season. Grantham averaged 10.2 points per game, but in order for this Clemson team to take a step forward Grantham will have to get his field goal shooting up over 40 percent. Holmes is another solid perimeter shooter for the Tigers as he averaged 10 points per game and made 50 three point shots as well. The ability for Holmes to stretch opposing defense by knocking down shots from the perimeter will only make the inside game for Clemson that much more effective this season. This will also boost the overall scoring production for this Tigers team and help it get closer to 75 points per game, which will take the pressure off of them defensively.
Final Projection:
Georgia visits on November 11th to open up the new era for Clemson inside the renovated Littlejohn Coliseum. The following week brings a trip to Orlando to play in the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament, which was moved from Puerto Rico due to Zika Virus concerns. A potential second round matchup with Xavier looms if the Tigers can beat Davidson in the first round of that tournament. Nebraska, Alabama and South Carolina also highlight the remainder of the non-conference schedule for Clemson. The ACC schedule is pretty balanced as the Tigers only have to play Duke, Virginia, Louisville and North Carolina once this season. A good goal would be to split those four games and then hold their own against the rest of the schedule and try and get to 12 conference wins, which would be enough to get into the NCAA Tournament. If this team can stay healthy all year long and continue to improve offensively, then the Tigers are going to be a very tough out all season long.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Avry Holmes, Senior, Guard, 10.0 points per game
Marcquise Reed, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jaron Blossomgame, Senior, Forward, 18.7 points per game
Donte Grantham, Junior, Forward, 10.2 points per game
Sidy Djitte, Senior, Center, 5.3 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.6 (253rd in nation, 14th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.5 (23, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.7 (193, 12)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.9 (88, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (105, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.2 (147, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.3 (82, 6)
Rebound Margin: 0.3 (178, 11)
Assists Per Game: 13.3 (183, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (14, 4)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#34 Jaron Blossomgame
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#149 Scott Spencer