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 4-year run to replace Oliver Purnell and will try to lead the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament win this century.
Brownell must replace 4-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. Five-foot-nine 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 postseason 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)