Clemson enters the season with a retooled backcourt devoid of the familiar faces of recent years. Chase Hunter will step into the spotlight as the Tigers’ premier guard, and his play will go a long way toward determining how good this team can be. The staff hopes it has a nice blend of experience and young talent on the perimeter to complement what should be one of the ACC’s better frontcourts.
David Collins (Graduation): Collins was a nice one-year pickup as a grad transfer from USF and was a key piece for Clemson last year. He was the Tigers’ third leading scorer and led the team in rebounding, providing a physical veteran presence and playing efficiently on both ends. Collins’ production, particularly as a rebounder, will be difficult to replace, and Clemson will probably need a group effort from its guards to compensate.
Nick Honor (Transfer to Missouri): Honor was a solid point guard for the Tigers during his two seasons of play and had some clutch moments and great shooting performances to his name. His size was always a detriment, though, and it wasn’t surprising to see him seek another opportunity elsewhere with Clemson making a concerted effort to get bigger on the perimeter.
Al-Amir Dawes (Transfer to Seton Hall): Dawes’ decision to transfer probably caught the staff off-guard more so than Honor’s, as Dawes played big-time minutes during his three seasons and was due to continue that trend as a senior. He was the Tigers’ second leading scorer last season and had developed into a great 3-point shooter. Dawes was volatile at times and fell in love with the three too frequently, but his experience will be missed on the whole.
Chase Hunter: 22.7 minutes/game, 6.7 points/game
The first two seasons of Hunter’s Clemson career were marred by injury and underwhelming play, and the first half of the 2021-22 season seemed like more of the same — with Hunter struggling to get a foothold for consistent minutes and still not playing up to the potential coaches continued to tout. Then something clicked, and Hunter went from barely contributing to averaging 10 points per game and scoring in double figures nine times over the Tigers’ final 16 games. He solidified himself as a nightly starter over that stretch and morphed into one of Clemson’s most important players seemingly overnight.
Now that Hunter has finally tapped into his potential, he will be looked to by the Tigers’ to take another big step in his redshirt-junior season. In fact, Hunter figures to assume lead guard duties for Brad Brownell to open the season after the transfers of Dawes and Honor left a big void at the point. While we have seen Hunter play primarily as an off-guard or wing to this point, the point guard spot may suit him even better given his playmaking talents.
Assuming he can handle the ball well enough, Hunter gives the Tigers a bigger guard that can excel in pick-and-roll situations with his ability to pull up or attack the basket. He improved his shooting percentage in every facet last season and should provide a three-level scoring threat this season. Hunter is an also an underrated passer that should be able to get quality looks for his teammates on the offensive end.
While Hunter’s defense has been inconsistent, his size and athleticism could prove useful against some of the ACC’s bigger guards that oftentimes were able to take advantage of the likes of Dawes and Honor. The staff hopes he can continue to make strides on both ends of the floor and make the leap from being a quality piece, to one of Clemson’s most impactful players. Much of the Tigers’ success will likely hinge on how well he assumes that responsibility.
Alex Hemenway: 14.6 minutes/game, 5.2 points/game
Hemenway is another veteran player who will be expected to step into an expanded role this season. He has averaged 15 minutes and five points over his three season at Clemson, serving primarily as a sharpshooter off the bench — where he has excelled with a career 41.5 percent mark from 3-point range. Much more may be needed from the senior this season, however, as he will potentially open the season as a starter that will be looked to for a more versatile scoring punch. Hemenway has reportedly added weight in the offseason and worked on rounding out his offensive game in order to offer the Tigers more than just a spot-up shooter.
Another reason for Hemenway’s limited minutes has been his vulnerability on the defensive end. He has gradually improved to a least a serviceable level, though, and Clemson’s improvements in the size and athleticism departments with this year’s roster may help to better insulate him on defense. If Hemenway can post another season of 40+ percent from beyond the arc and make at least incremental strides in the other facets of the game, he will give the Tigers a solid guard that can hopefully keep them in some games with his 3-point shooting.
Josh Beadle: 247 Sports Composite 3-star, 175th recruit nationally
Perhaps the biggest X-factor when it comes to Clemson’s outlook this season, Beadle took a redshirt year in 2021-22 and will potentially look to step right into a major role this season. Beadle is a crafty guard with surprising athleticism that will hopefully give the Tigers an off-guard who can knock down a shot or get to the rim at will. He offers another big guard that can compete on both ends of the floor at an ACC level, and the Tigers will need him to be ready right out of the gate.
There will likely be some growing pains with Beadle, who has spent a full season in the program but will be competing in college games for the first time. It’s possible he starts the season as the first guard off the bench for Clemson, but the team’s best-case scenario for this season probably involves this young guard playing at a level that warrants a starting spot. That would mean he is giving the Tigers another dynamic guard alongside Hunter and playing tough basketball on both ends. Beadle played well during Clemson’s off-season trip to France and in preseason practice, so the staff is optimistic that he is primed to contribute.
Brevin Galloway: 24.8 minutes/game, 8.3 points/game
The Tigers added Galloway over the off-season as a grad transfer who spent four seasons at College of Charleston and last season at Boston College. He has battled injuries throughout his career but by all accounts is in the best shape of his career and determined to make an impact for what he considers to be his hometown school. Galloway was a more efficient scorer at C of C than he was a season ago for Boston College, where he shot an abysmal 30% from the field and 25% from 3-point range. The hope is that an injury-free, in-shape Galloway that isn’t relied upon to be a volume shooter will perform more in line with his previous seasons than last.
It’s fair to say that Clemson had bigger transfer targets on its radar this off-season and that bringing in Galloway, especially after type of of season he had, could be viewed as a pretty underwhelming addition. But at minimum, he will give the Tigers an experienced guard that has played at the ACC level and can compete physically, and one that can get hot from 3-point range in any given game. Coincidentally, Galloway had his best shooting game of the season in Boston College’s trip to Littlejohn, so maybe he can resurrect some of that magic this season.
Dillon Hunter: 247 Sports Composite 3-star, 158th recruit nationally
Chase’s younger brother joins the program this year as a late addition to the incoming freshman class after de-committing from Baylor in April and committing to Clemson just two days later. Any player that was worthy of a spot at Baylor would figure to be a nice pickup for the program, and Hunter definitely brings a polished skill set to the table at the point guard position. He is less of a scoring threat and more of a traditional point guard in the sense that he has a good feel for quarterbacking an offense coupled with good vision and passing ability to help set up teammates.
Hunter started at point guard for one of the top high school teams in the country after transferring for his senior season and was asked to serve as a facilitator more than the scorer he had been to that point in his career. He isn’t a polished shooter, however, and will probably play a similar role as a freshman at Clemson, presumably as the primary backup at point guard. Hunter is physically mature for a freshman and will likely provide quality minutes off the bench at both ends, as knows how to run a team and is a high-level perimeter defender.
Chauncey Gibson: 247 Sports Composite 3-star, 216th recruit nationally
Gibson is the other guard in the incoming freshman class, and he may be in line to redshirt the same way Beadle did a season ago. Gibson is a tall guard with good length and shot-making ability, but he is a bit behind the other young players from a physical standpoint and would probably not play many minutes if the staff chose not to redshirt him. He may also need some time to acclimate to the pace of play at the college level. Gibson offers some intriguing qualities that should allow him to contribute down the road, however, and a developmental year could help position him to do that.