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Clemson Basketball: Postseason Player Evaluations

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We grade the season for every player on Clemson's roster.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

All in all, it was a disappointing season for Brad Brownell's team on the heels of a successful NIT run in the 2013-2014 campaign. K.J. McDaniels opting to enter the NBA draft a year early was certainly a blow to the momentum this team hoped to build, and there's no doubt his absence cost this team in some head-scratching early losses as players struggled to figure out their roles with the team's star gone. That said, Gardner-Webb, Winthrop, and Rutgers were teams Clemson should have beaten with or without McDaniels. Those setbacks doomed any realistic NCAA Tournament hopes this team had before the Tigers could even get to conference play. On a player-by-player basis, there were good and bad surprises, but it's safe to say the bad outweighed the good.

Note: Grades are based on what we could have reasonably expected from each player this season.

Austin Ajukwa: C+

There were high hopes for Ajukwa entering his sophomore campaign and even the thought that he could potentially fill K.J. McDaniels vacated starting spot. That didn't happen, as freshman Donte Grantham grabbed the job from day one and never relinquished it. Ajukwa was pretty sparsely used for the first two-thirds of the season, but he quietly averaged 6 points, 3 rebounds and a steal over the last nine games of the regular season. He is a tough grade, because he wasn't a factor for a large part of the season but was actually a solid contributor off the bench down the stretch. At least he finished strong and showed that he has the potential to be a useful piece next season.

Jaron Blossomgame: A

The onus was on Blossomgame to live up to his potential after a decent, but somewhat underwhelming first season. He certainly elevated his game, increasing his per-game scoring and rebounding numbers by 8.2 and 3.2, respectively. Unsurprisingly, his shooting percentages also improved drastically. He shot 9.1 percentage points better from the field, 8.8 percentage points better from three and 11.2 better from the free-throw line. We can't quite label him a "star" yet, but a 13-point, 8-rebound average could certainly be a springboard to that type of label as he enters his redshirt-junior season. You couldn't have asked for much more from Blossomgame this season, and he has proven he has the desire and work ethic to continue to grow as a player.

Gabe DeVoe: C

It's hard to expect too much from a true freshman when you are at Clemson's current level of recruiting, but some were cautiously optimistic that DeVoe might show some flashes of the scoring ability he displayed at the high school level. Save for an out-of-body experience at the end of the final home game of the season against NC State when he lit the Wolfpack up for 18 points in six minutes, the season was quite the disappointment for the freshman guard. He more often than not looked timid on the court, and his jump shot was anything but a threat for the vast majority of the season. Perhaps it was a bit of a volume problem as he rarely attempted more than a couple shots per appearance, but he really did nothing to warrant more opportunities. As he was given increased playing time toward the end of the season, he had moments where he played well, but he was nowhere near the level of consistency needed to compete at the ACC level. DeVoe needs to work hard to improve his skill set and - more importantly, perhaps - his confidence if he is going to be effective moving forward.

Sidy Djitte: B

If you were expecting Djitte to be anything more than a rebounder and foul eater as a sophomore, your sights were set too high. He basically did what he was asked to do, even tacking on a couple 8-point games over the course of the season. Djitte doesn't have nearly the upside of a Landry Nnoko, but the fact that he can play double-figure minutes and be relatively effective is a sign of improvement over a year ago.

Donte Grantham: B

Grantham's poor shot selection and shooting percentages are well-documented, and you would be hard-pressed to call him an efficient offensive player this season. At the end of the day, however, his per-game statistical totals were at least on par with the minutes he played. He played the third most minutes, and he was the third leading scorer and rebounder. He was second in assists and blocks and tied for the team lead in steals. Yes, his percentages were abysmal and he took way too many ill-advised shots. Again, it would be hard to be less efficient offensively than Grantham was. But keep in mind that he is a freshman, and he has to be considered a building block for the program. He played big minutes, and he made plenty of mistakes to learn from. I have trouble believing that Brownell would have given him the type of freedom he obviously had if he didn't think he was a better shooter than his percentages. Hopefully Grantham puts in the work on his shot in the off-season (read: stop shooting line drives), and I really think we will see a better, smarter version of him next season.

Rod Hall: B+

We expected Hall to become a more consistent scoring threat as a senior after McDaniels' departure, and for the most part that didn't materialize. His scoring actually dropped by .5 points per game, so that can certainly be viewed as a disappointment to some degree. But I don't think Hall is appreciated enough for the other things he did. The guy basically played 40 minutes a game. I often found myself frustrated that he didn't attack off the dribble as much as I thought he should, and then I would realize that maybe he was just flat gassed out there. He worked incredibly hard on defense and usually found himself matched up with the opponent's best player. He played through injury. He was charged with running the offense, and while some may not be particularly fond of him because he isn't a pure point guard, he typically played to the best of his ability. You can say what you want about Rod Hall, but he gave everything he had to Clemson University for four years and should be commended for that. And, in my opinion, he should be remembered fondly.

Damarcus Harrison: B-

Harrison is another tough player to assign a grade to because he was one of the team's best players in the non-conference schedule but just wasn't the same guy when conference play rolled around. It may seem like ages ago, but Harrison was actually averaging 13 points per game 10 games into the season. He saw a decrease in playing time when Jordan Roper took over his starting spot, but it wasn't enough to explain his dip in production. Play at the two-guard spot was an issue for this team much of the year, and a lot of that was due to Harrison's decline during conference play.

Landy Nnoko: C

What can you say? Early in the season, it was turnovers. Later in the season, it was foul trouble. Whatever the case, Nnoko simply did not take the big step forward this team needed from him. If Clemson was going to be an NCAA Tournament team this season, its center had to be a consistent double-double threat. His numbers, however, were decent and nothing more. The upside is still there, and maybe Nnoko will just be a year late on delivering. But it's safe to say that after this season, expectations will be much more tempered heading into his senior year.

Patrick Rooks: N/A

It's hard to judge Rooks' season because he essentially only played in blowouts. I expected to see more of Rooks, especially with some of the struggles DeVoe had, but we never did. Ironically, he may be the best three-point shooter on the team but was hardly given the opportunity to show it. Rooks was a huge factor in Clemson's early-season win over High Point, but that was just about the extent of his contribution. Maybe he was bad enough in other phases of the game that Brownell didn't feel the trade-off was worth it. Maybe he was still fighting injury. Who knows? All we know is we didn't see enough of him to even fairly judge how well he played.

Jordan Roper: B-

Roper was basically a ghost the first half of the season, but he was given the opportunity to start in late January and scored in double figures in five of six games (including the Tigers' four-game winning streak). He lost that scoring touch in the final six games, however, ending the season with the same struggles he had for the first half. Again, it's hard to slap an exact letter grade on inconsistency. Roper was instrumental in the winning streak that got Clemson to 6-4 in ACC play, but he also contributed to Clemson's early problems and uninspiring finish to the season. Considering that, at his core, he is a bench-scorer, spark plug type of player - rather than a reliable weapon - he didn't have as bad of a season as the stat sheet might indicate.

Josh Smith: B+

Smith is one of the more limited players on Clemson's roster, and with that in mind, he was actually one of the more positive stories on this year's team. He did his job when called upon and pulled down 2.7 rebounds per game in pretty limited playing time. He was an efficient 52% from the floor and a respectable 62% from the free-throw line. Smith plays with as much heart and desire as anyone on the team, and he did a solid job of maximizing his potential this season. If every player on the roster played as hard as him, Clemson would be in lot better shape.