What does it say about your program when your head coach leaves to take the same position at DePaul? The answer: not much. That is what happened this off-season at Clemson when Oliver Purnell bolted for the Big East bottom feeder.
The Sports Bank’s 99 team college basketball preview in 99 days breaks down the 72 power conference teams and top 27 mid-majors and will lead you right into the opening tip of the season. Click here if you missed teams #63#99.
By: David Kay
Clemson Tigers (T-5th, 9-7, 21-11)
Projected Depth Chart
C: Jerai Grant (Sr)/Catalin Baciu (Jr)
PF: Devin Booker (So)/Milton Jennings (So)
G/F: Noel Johnson (So)/Bryan Narcisse (Jr)
SG: Tanner Smith (Jr)/Donte Hill (So)
PG: Demontez Stitt (Sr)/Andre Young (Jr)/Cory Stanton (Fr)
Gone: PF-Trevor Booker, F-David Potter, C-Karolis Petrukonis
Unlike many major programs that switched head coaches this summer, Clemson was fortunate enough to not suffer any transfers. Brad Brownell comes from Cleveland State after a successful four-year run to replace Purnell and will try to lead the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament win this century.
Brownell must replace four-year starter Trevor Booker who was the heart and soul of this team the past couple seasons. With that being said, there is plenty of experience returning. Jerai Grant, Tanner Smith, and Demontez Stitt all started a year ago and will likely return to those roles this season. 5-9 junior Andre Young was the third leading scorer a year ago as the Tigers’ sixth man and will once again provide a nice scoring punch off the bench. The concern is that none of those players have “go-to” written on them and until that role is filled, Clemson might see their share of struggles.
Noel Johnson, Devin Booker, and Milton Jennings will all be asked to play bigger roles in their second season. Their development from year one to year two could be the difference between Clemson being a bubble NCAA Tournament team or heading to one of those other post-season tournaments that nobody cares about.
Player to Watch: Noel Johnson, G/F
Johnson was a late signee at Clemson after pulling out of his commitment from USC when the whole Tim Floyd situation occurred a little more than a year ago. Of all the players on the roster though, Johnson probably possesses the most all-around talent. He can take defenders off the dribble and also has a nice stroke from the outside. For a team desperately seeking an offensive playmaker, Johnson might be forced into that role. Whether or not he is able to seize that opportunity after a fairly lackluster freshman season might be quite the stretch.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/20-11/21 vs. Old Dominion/St. Peter’s (Paradise Jam)
11/22 vs. Xavier/Iowa/Alabama/Seton Hall (Paradise Jam)
11/30 vs. Michigan (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
12/5 at South Carolina
Other 99 in 99’s:
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#71 Weber State
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma State
#82 South Carolina
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State