Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Entering his fourth season as head coach of the Clemson Tigers, Brad Brownell has the program heading in the wrong direction. Clemson has regressed the past two years and the forecast isn’t much brighter as they will face a loaded ACC.
Last Season: 11th, 5-13 in ACC, 13-18 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 14th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Landry Nnoko (So)/Ibrahim Djambo (Jr)/Josh Smith (So)/Siddy Djitte (Fr)
F: K.J. McDaniels (Jr)/Jaron Blossomgame (Fr)
SG: Demarcus Harrison (Jr)/Austin Ajukwa (Fr)
G: Jordan Roper (So)/Devin Coleman (So)/Patrick Rooks (Fr)
PG: Rod Hall (Jr)/Adonis Filer (So)
Gone: F/C-Devin Booker, PF-Milton Jennings, PF-Bernard Sullivan (transfer-Charlotte), G-T.J. Sapp (transfer-Murray State)
Simply put; the Clemson Tigers have lacked any real star power since Brownell took over and will once again be the situation this year. K.J. McDaniels is the team’s top returning scorer but will likely spend more time playing the four this season in a smaller lineup as opposed to playing his natural small forward spot. That is due to the loss of starting frontcourt players Devin Booker and Milton Jennings which leaves a big void in the middle.
There is decent size but a lot of unproven talent up front. Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith each played sparingly a year ago as freshmen but are in line to take on larger roles this season. Junior College transfer Ibrahim Djambo and freshman Sidy Djitte will also try to factor into the equation. Minutes are for the taking in the frontcourt but this will easily be the biggest question for Clemson as the start of the season approaches.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Tigers return their entire backcourt from last season. The only problem; there is decent but not great talent at guard. Rod Hall returns as starting point guard and brings experience but not a whole lot of scoring or playmaking ability. Jordan Roper, Adonis Filer, and Demarcus Harrison all saw quality minutes last season as well but again, nothing about that combination really wows me or intimidates any opponents.
Devin Coleman will also compete for minutes after missing last season with torn Achilles. Small forward Jaron Blossomgame’s status remain uncertain once again after he underwent off-season surgery for a compound fracture of his left leg that he suffered during April of his senior year of high school. He missed all of last season with the injury so it is his second surgery in the past 13 months. Blossomgame is expected to return by the start of the season and if he is back, adds some length and versatility on the wing. Freshmen Austin Ajukwa and Patrick Rooks figure to be the odd men out in the rotation.
With the additions of Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame, the ACC is stacked with high level teams and a few others that are on the way up. Clemson just isn’t in that league. They haven’t landed the big time recruits needed to compete in the upper half of the conference and with a roster of average talent, will struggle to keep their heads above water for another year.
Player to Watch: Jordan Roper
Of the five returning backcourt players, Roper is the most explosive offensive threat which is something Clemson lacks heading into the season. He averaged nearly eight points per game in just 22 minutes a night and was the team’s top three-point threat. At just 5-11 though, his size is a concern since the Tigers will have an undersized backcourt depending on whether Hall or Filer are alongside Roper.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/21 vs. Temple (Charleston Classic)
11/22 vs. Davidson/Georgia (Charleston Classic)
11/24 vs. New Mexico/UAB/UMass/Nebraska (Charleston Classic)
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks