2011-2012 record: 16-15, (8-8)
For the first times 2003-04, the Tigers did not compete in a post-season tournament.
Head coach: Brad Brownell
With five new freshman recruits and a transfer from BYU, Clemson’s main focus this season will be development of young talent. After losing their top two scorers, Andre Young and Tanner Smith, the Tigers are looking to re-build their offensive attack. Six-foot-11 freshman center Landry Nnoko will bring outstanding length and mobility to the Clemson interior as one of the best physical prospects in his class. He will require a significant adjustment period to Division I basketball, though, since he arrived in the U.S. as a soccer player from Cameroon just two years ago. On the other hand, senior forward Milton Jennings has had three years to develop into a reliable threat. He remains an enigmatic presence, though, showing flashes of dominant ability but not consistently playing up to his potential. After shooting 44 percent from the field and averaging 5.6 rebounds per game as a junior, he remains a breakout candidate. As one of two seniors, his leadership will also be essential to the development of Clemson’s freshmen.
The team’s youth will force sophomores to step into more significant roles. Brownell recruited a huge class last season, bringing in seven recruits who are currently sophomores. Unfortunately for the Clemson faithful, none of those players distinguished themselves during their freshman campaigns, and none was ranked among the top 100 players in the class of 2011 by ESPN. The inexperienced roster will offer plenty of opportunities for players to break out, but the talent is lacking for Clemson to present much of a threat to the conference’s top teams.
One thing that needs to go right: Jennings steps up as the leader of this team—if he peaks at the right time, the Tigers could make a return to the NCAA Tournament.
One thing that could go wrong: The team’s inexperience and lack of premier recruits the last few seasons dooms Brownell’s squad to the bottom of the conference.
The starting five: small forward K.J. McDanies, power forward Milton Jennings, center Devin Booker, shooting guard T.J. Sapp and point guard Rod Hall.
Projected finish in the ACC: 9th