#62 Clemson Tigers: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

In his first season as head coach, Brad Brownell led the Clemson Tigers to their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.  With their top two scorers from that team gone, the Tigers will have to assimilate their five freshman into the line-up right away if they want to head back to the dance.

CLEMSON TIGERS
Last Season: T-4th, 9-7 in ACC, 21-12 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 7th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Devin Booker (Jr)/Catalin Baciu (Sr)
PF: Milton Jennings (Jr)/Bernard Sullivan (Fr)
SF: Bryan Narcisse (Sr)/K.J. McDaniels (Fr)
SG: Tanner Smith (Sr)/Devin Coleman (Fr)
PG: Andre Young (Sr)/T.J. Sapp (Fr)/Rod Hall (Fr)

Gone: C-Jerai Grant, SG-Demontez Stitt, PG-Zavier Anderson, SG-Noel Johnson (transfer-Auburn), SG-Donte Hill (transfer-Old Dominion), PG-Cory Stanton (transfer-Lipscomb)

bryan narcisse clemson

2010-2011 Outlook:
There is experience in the starting frontcourt.  Devin Booker and Milton Jennings showed improvement last season as they were given more playing time.  Booker provides the physicality inside while Jennings relies more on his athleticism and ability to stretch defenses with his jump shot.  Jennings will move into the full-time starting spot, replacing Jerai Grant.  Grant’s departure creates a void for someone who can protect the rim on the defensive end since he single-handedly had more blocked shots than the rest of the Clemson team combined.

The re-spec rocking Bryan Narcisse will likely see his role expand as well.  Narcisse was an energy role player a year ago but figures to start at small forward.  He brings hustle to floor but not a whole lot of skill.  Fellow seniors Andre Young and Tanner Smith should make up the backcourt and will have to increase their scoring to replace the offensive production Demontez Stitt provided last season.  Both guys are capable ball-handlers and shooters, but Young specifically is known for his ability to light it up from deep.

Once you get past the starters, the only Tiger with Division One experience is 7-2 Catalin Baciu who has only played 167 minutes in his three years at Clemson.  That means Brownell must rely on a couple of his five in-coming freshman to contribute right away.

6-7 post player Bernard Sullivan is the most highly decorated of the Clemson newcomers.  The lefty has a nice inside/outside game and makes up for being under-sized with his strength.  K.J. Daniels is a combo forward who relies on his athleticism and length.

In the backcourt, Devin Coleman, T.J. Sapp, and Rod Hall will battle it out for playing time.  Sapp should be the first guard off the bench due to his ability to score and play either guard position.  Defense was an integral part of the Tigers’ success last season which could bode well for Coleman and Hall who both have the reputation of being solid defenders.

Clemson is looking for their fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament; a feat that the program has never accomplished.  For that to happen, Young and Smith have to embrace their roles as leaders, the Booker/Jennings frontcourt must take their game to the next level, while several of the freshman play major roles off the bench right away.    That is a lot to ask of a team which is why more than likely, Clemson ends up a middle of the pack ACC team.

Player to Watch: Milton Jennings
A consensus top-30 recruit, there was plenty of hype surrounding Jennings when he arrived at Clemson.  He struggled his freshman season as minutes were hard to find but made the most of his increased role last season, averaging about eight points and five rebounds in just twenty minutes a night.  Moving into the starting line-up should provide Jennings with more opportunity this season to live up to the high expectations.  Becoming a more consistent outside shooter will certainly help his cause.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 vs. Charleston
11/29 at Iowa (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
12/4 vs. South Carolina
12/10 at Arizona
12/22 vs. UTEP (Diamond Head Classic)
12/23 vs. Kansas State/Southern Illinois (Diamond Head Classic)
12/25 vs. Xavier/Long Beach State/Auburn/Hawaii (Diamond Head Classic)

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

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.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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