Most of you now know that our fears were realized when K.J. McDaniels decided to turn pro a year early. It is a loaded draft, but K.J. takes a back seat to nobody in terms of athleticism. Chances are actually pretty good he will land with a good organization picking later in the first round where he can hopefully find a niche in a rotation as he grows his game. He's the type I could see a San Antonio or Oklahoma City going for. Defensively challenged teams such as Houston and Golden State would also be potential spots for a guy with K.J.'s skill sets.
Regardless, this is a blow to the Clemson program which can ill afford early departures like this due to not being able to reload on top 50 players like Kentucky, Duke, UNC, etc. The signing of Donte Grantham was huge because he now will project to be the 3 man for the Tigers next year (a player evaluation post will follow later now that the decision has been made). With Filer leaving, Clemson again has a free scholarship that will most likely be saved for the following class. The 2014-2015 signing class is going to be large and extremely important for Brownell and staff to try to maintain the level it has reached this year and hopefully next, which is challenging 20 wins and a post season birth.
Back to K.J. He was easily one of the most entertaining, if not the most entertaining, Tiger basketball player ever. A virtual human highlight reel even from his limited time as a freshman, McDaniels has helped resuscitate a Tiger program that had languished a bit in the wake of Oliver Purnell's somewhat surprising departure and the failings of what was supposed to be OP's next level recruiting class. He has been exhibit A for Brad Brownell and his staff's ability to develop players at this level and will hopefully put together a successful NBA career and become a sort of flagship representative of the program young players will recognize. A Clemson fan would hope that McDaniels will show you can come to Clemson and accomplish your goals of getting to the next level.
I would invite readers to post their favorite K.J. memory in this thread as a tribute to a great Tiger. We will miss him at Clemson and will have to temper our expectations for next season a bit due his leaving early.
My favorite K.J. moment was probably the first time he really jumped (pun intended) off the radar for me. His freshman year at Virginia Tech, I saw this guy come flying out of nowhere dunking everything in sight. I'm not sure how many dunks he had in that game but it was at least 5. It was a rim assault like I hadn't seen since Harold Jamison against Kentucky and I immediately clamored to see more of #32 on the floor for the Tigers.
Here's a little piece of K.J. greatness to close this out: