2016-2017 Season Review
It was a season of what ifs for the Clemson basketball program. In a year where their football team finished big game after big game and just found ways to win, the basketball team did the exact opposite. They lost 9 ACC games by 6 points or less on their way to a 12th place finish in the conference. Their final record was 17-16 (6-12) as they missed the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year. Their one marquee win was at South Carolina. To cap off the disappointing season, the Tigers received a #2 seed in the NIT and promptly lost to Oakland in the first round. Brad Brownell is still the head man, but his seat is awfully warm entering this season.
Gone is Clemson’s best player and third team All-ACC performer Jaron Blossomgame. The forward graduated after a senior season that saw him average 17.6 PPG and 6.3 RPG. Avry Holmes also graduated after the guard scored 10.3 PPG and hit a team best 69 threes at a 44.2% clip last season. Big 6’10 Sidy Djitte, who started 24 games, is gone after graduating as well. He scored 6.5 PPG and grabbed 7.7 RPG. Djitte led the entire nation in offensive rebound percentage. 7’1 Legend Robertin decided to move on and go to Nicholls as a graduate transfer after appearing 15 games this past season, while guard Ty Hudson, who played in 18 games as a sophomore, also decided to transfer.
In his first season at Clemson after transferring from Vanderbilt, Shelton Mitchell started in 27 games as a sophomore last season. The 6’3 junior was second on the team in scoring 10.8 PPG while leading the team in assists with 3.6 per game. He also shot 45.3% from beyond the arc. 6’3 junior Marcquise Reed returns after scoring 9.9 PPG, getting 1.4 steals per game and shooting 39.5% from three. 6’8 senior Donte Grantham started all 3: games last season, putting up 7.4 PPG and grabbing 4.3 RPG. Elijah Thomas, a 6’9 junior, put up some impressive numbers in just 16.2 MPG last season. He scored 7.5 PPG, grabbed 4.2 RPG and blocked 1.2 shot per game in those limited minutes. Gabe DeVoe, a 6’3 senior, is back after hitting 44 threes while scoring 7.2 PPG, while Scott Spencer, a 6’6 sophomore returns as well. Scott played in just 7 games last season, but was the #24 SF in the 2016 recruiting class and battled a back injury during ACC play.
Brownell brings in the #8 rated recruiting class in the ACC, led by a couple four star recruits in Aamir Simms and AJ Oliver. Simms, a 6’8 forward, is a high energy player that runs floor well and can rebound. Oliver enrolled early in January and took a redshirt last season. He’s a high volume scorers that can knock down the 3 ball. Also part of the class is a couple three star Recruits in Malik William and Clyde Trappe. William is a highly skilled 6’8 forward that can pass and shoot the ball. Trappe is a 6’4 versatile athlete with good ball skills. Brownell also will have two new transfers at his disposal this season. One of them is Mark Donnal, a 6’9 grad transfer from Michigan. In 2015-2016, Donnal scored 7.8 PPG and grabbed 3.6 RPG. He played 12.2 MPG last season. Valpo transfer David Skara will also be eligible this season after sitting out last year. The 6’8 junior averaged 6.5 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 2015-2016.
As stated earlier, Brad Brownell’s seat is getting hot. If it wasn’t for the cost of his buyout, he probably would’ve been let go this off-season. Things aren’t going to be much easier this season without Blossomgame, Holmes and Djitte. They’ll need guys like Elijah Thomas to break out and the newcomers to make an immediate impact if they want to battle for a spot in or the near the top half of the ACC standings. This is a tough team to predict, but I’ll go ahead and say it’s another NIT bid for the Tigers this season.