The Clemson Tigers basketball team is in a drastically different place today than it was just one year ago. Entering last season, head coach Brad Brownell sat on the hot seat, but a 25-win season complete with a Sweet 16 appearance re-cemented his position.
The Tigers, who enter the season ranked 22nd in the nation and 14th according to KenPom, bring back a team of experienced players who fans should be familiar with. But the Tigers potential to take the next step and improve on last year will be based on some of the newer faces -- even if we did miss out on our biggest, most high-flying target.
John Newman is a name that immediately stands out among the newcomers, because he has the potential to be an impact player immediately in his career as a Tiger. The 6’5” guard from Greensboro, North Carolina, will likely come off the bench to start the season, but not for lack of talent.
On the court, Newman brings a passion to defense that allows him to play a tougher, more physical brand of basketball than his skinny frame might suggest. On offense, he has the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and get to the rim. All in all, he could be a very fun prospect to watch play basketball.
The Tigers will also be adding a few skilled pieces to a front-court led by senior Elijah Thomas. Graduate transfer Javan White, who played at Oral Roberts, is a player who can have an immediate impact for the Tigers. When he first announced his decision, Ryan noted “White moves well and seems to have the athleticism to play PF as well as C.” Versatility, especially in a conference as tough as the ACC, will do nothing but help the Tigers through the season. White wasn’t really a defensive presence in his time at ORU, but he did average nearly a double-double last season and could be a handful for teams with smaller big men on their bench lineups.
White will be joined in the frontcourt rotation by incoming freshman 7-footer Trey Jemison, who played high school ball in Alabama. Jemison, who ESPN listed as the top player from Alabama in his class, was also targeted by a host of ACC, SEC and Big 12 programs including Oklahoma State, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Clemson’s third and final scholarship freshman, Hunter Tyson, will provide an immediate long-range threat off the bench for the Tigers. Listed at 6’7”, Tyson should get most of his playing time at SF, but did show an ability to rebound during his high school career.
Hunter’s crazy shot to end first quarter against Monroe last night! 33 points and 18 rebounds! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WypHQuBZpR— Torri Tyson (@TorriTyson) January 21, 2018
Tyson entered high school as a guard, but grew eight inches over the past four years allowing him to move to the wing. Despite the growth spurt, Tyson retained most of his ball-handling and playmaking abilities meaning that with time he could develop into a an impact player on the perimeter. Still, in his freshman season we can expect a more limited role on a team laden with experienced ball handlers.
Clemson won’t need to rely on their freshman this season, but if even one of the newcomers to this team can have an impact on the Tigers early on in their careers, expect the Tigers to become a fixture in national conversations.