Clemson Basketball: It's Time for the Tigers to Grow Up

Kevin ThomasContributor IIOctober 26, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08:  Milton Jennings #24 and Devin Booker #31 of the Clemson Tigers go up for a rebound against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their first round game of 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last season, the Clemson Tigers basketball team finished 16-15 and 8-8 in the ACC. The 8-8 mark placed the Tigers seventh in the ACC, and they lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Clemson missed the postseason for the first time in four years and will have to move forward this season without their two scoring leaders from last year, Andre Young and Tanner Smith, who have both graduated.

This season, the Tigers will need some of their younger players to step up as their roster includes 12 underclassmen and only two seniors.

The expected starting five for the Tigers are guards Rod Hall and T.J. Sapp, swingman K.J. McDaniels and forwards Milton Jennings and Devin Booker.

Hall and Sapp both played significant minutes last season as freshmen, and both will need to have more of an impact this season. Hall was a presence on the defensive end of the floor, but he will have to improve his offensive game this season, especially his outside shot.

Sapp was inconsistent, and he seemed to hit a freshman wall at one point. Sapp has the potential to be the best player on the team, but he will have to become more consistent on the offensive end. He has a solid jumper, but he will need to become more aggressive when driving to the basket and also improve at passing.

McDaniels came on strong at the tail end of last season, flashing his enormous athletic ability on several dunks, rebounds and blocks. He can jump out of the gym and is a good defensive player. However, he lacks a mid-range game on offense. The Tigers will need McDaniels to improve his ball-handling and his mid-range game before he can become the player that he is capable of becoming.

Jennings is another player to look out for as he is one of the two seniors on the team. As a former McDonald’s All-American, he has not quite lived up to the expectations that were put on him when he first came to campus. However, he has a ton of talent and potential, and many people think that this is the season that he will really break out.

Jennings has put on weight every season, and he has developed a better post game each year. He also has a nice mid-range game and a solid three-point shot. If Jennings can keep his confidence up, he will be the best player on the team this season.

Booker, the other senior on the team, will be called upon to play his best this season as well. He has a good inside post skill set but will need to step up in order to be able to live up to the hype of his older brother, former Clemson great Trevor Booker. Booker has been known to become lazy at times, and he will need to improve this season on the defensive end and in the rebounding department as well.

Off the bench at the guard position, Clemson will have freshmen Adonis Filer and Jordan Roper as well as Damarcus Harrison, a transfer from BYU. Filer was the higher rated of the two freshmen and has the better offensive game, so it is thought that he will contribute more this season. Harrison, at 6’4”, will play significant minutes this season, and his size could be a weapon for Clemson on the defensive end.

The post players coming off the bench will be Bernard Sullivan, Josh Smith and Landry Nnoko. Sullivan played sparingly last season due to his battle with asthma. He has said that his conditioning has improved, which is great news for the Tigers. Sullivan has good finesse moves in the post and also a nice jump shot for a big man. Clemson will need him to score more points this season for this team to compete in the ACC. Smith and Nnoko are both freshmen, and Nnoko is the one that most people are excited to see. Nnoko is known as somewhat of a project but has tons of potential at 6’10”.

Devin Coleman and Jaron Blossomgame are two players who were originally thought to help the Tigers but may now end up redshirting. Coleman tore his Achilles tendon, and Blossomgame broke a bone in his leg, so it is looking like both will have to sit out for this year.

Brad Brownell is back for his third season as Clemson’s head coach. He has a record of 38-27 overall and 17-15 in ACC thus far at Clemson. Brownell is an excellent X’s and O’s coach, and he will have his hands full this season in the always-stacked ACC. No one really knows how good this team will be, but they have the potential to do very well and make it into postseason play.

The Clemson Tigers start their season against Lander in an exhibition game in Littlejohn Coliseum on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.

For more Clemson sports (and sports in general) updates and thoughts on everyday life as well, follow me on Twitter @K_Mart10. You can also check out my podcast, "The OT with KT," on iTunes or on at