It’s not lost amongst the current road to the College Football Playoff that while the Tigers are vying for a playoff spot on the field, the men’s basketball team is prepping for another season on the court in Littlejohn Coliseum.
Basketball season is officially underway tonight as Clemson hosts Benedict in LJC in an exhibition match scheduled to tipoff at 7 p.m. The Tigers are looking to make a run back into the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years.
This season, the Tigers’ are building off of that 2021 NCAA tournament appearance that ended in the first round against Rutgers after Clemson missed the 2022 tournament. The Tigers return a load of talent from last year, including junior guard Chase Hunter, senior guard Alex Hemenway, and junior center PJ Hall. Clemson also returns graduate forward Hunter Tyson and incoming grad transfer guard Brevin Galloway, who comes to the Tigers from Boston College.
For the amount of returns though, the losses were also heavy. Guards Al-Amir Dawes and Nick Honor both transferred out, while guard David Collins and forward Naz Bohannon both graduated. The Tigers did restack some talent from the recruiting trail, adding 3-star guards Dillion Hunter (Atlanta, GA) and Chauncey Gibson (Dallas, TX) alongside forwards Chauncey Wiggins (Covington, GA) and R.J. Godfrey (Suwanee, GA).
The schedule kicks off the exhibition with Benedict before the regular season starts November 7th at home versus The Citadel. The Palmetto Series game against South Carolina has been moved up earlier in the season, tipping off on Friday, November 11th.
The Tigers will participate in 2022 Emerald Coast Classic as well as the Greenville Winter Invitational. Clemson gets Penn State at home this year in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and will face off with Loyola-Chicago in the Holiday Hoopsgiving.
ACC play will begin on December 2nd at home against Wake Forest. The home slate this year features matchups with NC State, Louisville, Duke, Florida State and Syracuse. The Tigers will also travel to Virginia Tech, FSU, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Click here to see the full 2022-2023 schedule.
The expectations surrounding the Tigers this year are relatively the same as always. Head Coach Brad Brownell returns for his 13th season at the helm of the program, and although there have been flashes of success, the program is a ways away from competing for ACC championships and deep NCAA tournament runs. The tide could always change, but Clemson fans should expect the Tigers to finish around the middle of the pack, with the best case being a potential 4th or 5th seed in the conference if the team overachieves.
Ryan Kantor’s Expectations
KenPom projects Clemson to finish 17-13 (10-10) and ranks Clemson as the 60th best team in the country. That probably puts them outside of the NCAA tournament, but firmly in the hunt late into the year.
Clemson was 16-15 (8-12) in the regular season last year, went 1-1 in the ACC tournament, and did not make the NCAA tournament or NIT. They finished 71st in KenPom’s final rankings.
The Tigers lost three of their top four guards over the offseason. That makes it far from obvious that they’ll improve upon last year’s results, but there are few reasons for optimism. They were a post-driven team and their two best players, PF Hunter Tyson and C PJ Hall, are back. Chase Hunter is also back after a second half that was a major step-change for his career. In his first 17 games last season, Chase Hunter reached double-digit points just once. In the final 16 games, he did so nine times.
They also brought in Brevin Galloway from Boston College as a graduate transfer. Beyond that, freshman and redshirt freshman will have to contribute. Josh Beadle is coming off a redshirt year and is expected to play a big role in the front court. Chase Hunter’s little brother, Dillon Hunter, is a true freshman and could also see some critical minutes.
There are a lot of wild cards there, and that’s why I believe this team has a pretty wide variance. If PJ Hall and Tyson Hunter stay healthy and improve upon last season, Clemson will have their best post-duo in ages. If they can get three ACC-level starters out of Chase Hunter, Dillon Hunter, Josh Beadle, Alex Hemenway, and Brevin Galloway, they could be an NCAA tournament team. 13-7 in ACC play is about the best case scenario. If the ACC performs better than last year, that should be enough for a tournament bid — Wake Forest didn’t receive an invitation with that conference record in a historically poor year for the ACC last season.
If guard play struggles or their star big men suffer injuries, this season could crater to something like 7-13. Clemson basketball is a wild card, but there is enough upside to make them worth tuning into starting this coming Monday.