#105 Clemson Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Clemson Tigers

2017-2018 Overall Rank: #105
Conference Rank: #13 ACC

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Clemson possessed some of the worst luck in the nation in 2016-17, with nine of their 12 ACC losses suffered by just six points or less. Coach Brad Brownell retained his job this offseason, but having only made the NCAA Tournament once in his seven seasons with the Tigers, he will likely be coaching on the hot seat this season. The bad news for Brownell and the Tigers is Jaron Blossomgame, one of the best players in school history, has moved on to the NBA. However, Clemson still returns all but three of their key players from last season and adds a couple of experienced transfers as well. Despite that experience, the Tigers will still have a tough task ahead of them this season competing in the always strong ACC.   
2016-17 Record: 17-16, 6-12
2016-17 Postseason:
Brad Brownell
Coach Record:
124-103 at Clemson, 291-188 overall
Who’s Out:
After a remarkable four-year career at Clemson, star forward Jaron Blossomgame has now graduated and was selected in the NBA Draft. Blossomgame averaged more than 17 points and six rebounds in each of his last two seasons. He was named to the third-team All-ACC last season and was a member of the first-team All-ACC in 2015-16. Blossomgame finished his career at Clemson in the top ten in points, rebounds and minutes played in school history. Avry Holmes, last season’s third leading scorer at 10.3 points per game, also graduated from the program. Holmes spent the last two seasons at Clemson after transferring in from San Francisco. Holmes was a double-digit scorer in each of his seasons with the Tigers. Clemson will have to replace his outside shooting as he led the team in three-point field goals made last season while shooting 44% from downtown. Sidy Djitte, who started 24 games at center, has also graduated after a relatively disappointing career at Clemson. Djitte did have career highs in points (6.5), rebounds (7.7) and minutes (23.5) as a senior. Center Legend Robertin transferred out of Clemson after two seasons with limited playing time.
Who’s In:
Clemson will bring in an experienced center to help replace Djitte in graduate transfer Mark Donnal out of Michigan. Donnal has averaged 5.1 points and 2.6 rebounds in his career, and he brings some big-game experience, having made the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons at Michigan. David Skara, a 6-8 forward, will be eligible this season after transferring in from Valparaiso a year ago. Skara averaged 6.5 points in his last season at Valparaiso and should be ready to contribute in the ACC after competing with Blossomgame in practices last season. The Tigers will also have four freshmen entering the program in 2017-18. Anthony Oliver II and Aamir Simms are both four-star prospects. Oliver, a 6-4 guard, joined the team as an early enrollee in January 2017 and redshirted last season. Simms is a 6-8 forward that could serve as a replacement for Blossomgame in the line-up. Also joining the program are Malik William, a three-star forward, and Clyde Trapp Jr., a three-star shooting guard.
Who to Watch:
Despite losing three starters, Clemson will bring back five of their top seven scorers from a season ago. Starting point guard Shelton Mitchell returns after leading the team in assists (3.6 per game) and finishing second in scoring (10.8 per game). Mitchell led the team in three-point shooting percentage as well and should take over as the most well-rounded player on the team. Elijah Thomas should step in as starting center after impressing in 24 games last season. Thomas played just 17 minutes per game, but he was fifth on the team in scoring with 7.5 points. Gabe DeVoe and Marcquise Reed were scorers off the bench last season who will take on bigger roles this season as starters. DeVoe took 4.1 three-pointers per game last season but only hit 32.8% of his attempts from deep. He will have to be a more efficient shooter as a full-time player in his senior year. Reed was fourth on the team in scoring with 9.9 points per game and will be expected to step up as a scoring leader in an expanded role this season.
Final Projection:
Clemson will enter the 2017-18 season looking to correct their poor luck from a season ago. The goal will be the first NCAA Tournament since Coach Brad Brownell’s first season with the team in 2010-11. Losing three starters, including star Jaron Blossomgame, will surely be a blow to the Tigers’ chance of getting to the big dance. There is no absence of experience in this line-up, though. Five of the top seven scorers from last season return along with a couple of experienced transfers. All five projected starters played important minutes last season and will be ready to take on bigger expectations. That includes returning starter Donte Grantham who scored just 7.4 points per game last season. The Tigers should also get a full season out of Scott Spencer, a three-star guard who only played in seven games last season due to injury. The ACC is loaded as usual and it will be an uphill battle for Clemson to finish .500 or better in conference play. Another NIT appearance may not even be in store for the Tigers this season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Shelton Mitchell, Junior, Guard, 10.8 points per game

Marcquise Reed, Junior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Gabe DeVoe, Senior, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Donte Grantham, Senior, Forward, 7.4 points per game
Elijah Thomas, Junior, Center, 7.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.8 (135th in nation, 10th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 71.5 (158, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.9 (138, 12)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.3 (252, 13)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (185, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.7 (136, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.1 (86, 7)
Rebound Margin: -1.1 (241, 13)
Assists Per Game: 12.5 (239, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.7 (18, 3)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#113 Aamir Simms
#160 A.J. Oliver