When reviewing Clemson's prospects for next season, the immediate temptation
is to focus on this fall's recruits, who won't play until next year. As
Pete Gillen showed us last year, this isn't always necessary. And Clemson
has a great deal more to work with than UVa did last season. Nonetheless, it
could be a tough road. However, despite returning only five players and
losing seniors who were on the cusp of revolutionizing basketball at
Clemson. But that will have to wait for another class.
Returnees include some reasonable building blocks: Jurkunas has some game,
Allenspach has potential, and at least can clog the middle, play defense and
rebound. Chucky Gilmore is big and thick and has done little so far.
Will Solomon was a pretty sharp guard in stretches last year, but Dustin
Braddock didn't do much.
That's it for the returnees. Their most promising recruit, guard Ron
Blackshear, will not play at Clemson, and has made a hash out of his
Transfer Pasha Bains, who signed with Larry Shyatt when Shyatt was a Cowboy,
is supposed to be a sharpshooting Canadian guard.
6-8 Ray Henderson of Charlotte might pan out, and the two Lithuanian big men
they signed might help. Time will tell. But a lot of Clemson's fate will
rest with 6-0 Ed Scott.
We don't know much about Scott, but we do know he played at Lower Richland
High, in Hopkins, SC. There is no real equivalent of DeMatha below DC on
the Eastern Seaboard, but Lower Richland has become a dynasty and sends out
quality D-1 players virtually every year. He may be the only option at
point guard. Can Solomon play point? Can Braddock? Like it or not,
Scott is probably going to be the defacto choice, meaning he'll go up against Ed
Cota, Jason Williams, and UVa's points, whoever happens to be in at the time,
and Wake's as well. Not an easy task, to be sure, and then there's that pest
Clemson will be competitive if they manage to find a reasonable solution at
point guard, and some level of offensive competence. Bains will have a big
chance to make an impact here, as will Solomon. Lithuanians have a reputation
for being sound, well-trained ballplayers, so maybe they'll be able to put
together a solid package. But this year could also be very tough.
And now our ACC predictions, as we promised when we first started our previews:
- UNC. Their early injuries are troubling, but if they can get healthy and
overcome the loss of Ronald Curry (ace defender) for the season, they should
be very, very good.
- Duke. The early return of Carlos Boozer is immensely important. Duke
is solid at forwards with Battier and C-well. Williams will take his
lumps at point but is a serious talent and should grow into the job quickly.
Dunleavy can play all over the place, and now Horvath and Sanders can come
off the bench. Duke can put a very solid five out and if their bench
is in good shape, they could go far.
- Wake Forest. They're deep, they're experienced, and pretty talented.
Time for the Deacs to move up.
- Maryland. Building around Morris, Baxter, Dixon and company is solid
- UVa. Gillen proved he could coach last season, and suddenly has a
boatload of young talent. Chemistry is the biggest question, other
than possibly youth.
- NCSU. This could be a mistake, but State has spent the last couple of
years teaching fundamentals. Has it sunk in? There's little difference
between Md, UVa, and State, but someone has to move up and someone back.
- Tech. If the Twin Towers don't work out, Bobby is in serious
trouble. Having to depend on Alvin Jones to continue your career is a
- FSU. Help is on the way, and they could easily move up. But
it's still not enough.
- Clemson. Just not enough players in a hyper-competitive conference.