Let’s face it, whether you’re a Brad Brownell fan or not, there’s no denying the Tigers head basketball coach has had some tough breaks of late. As Clemson basketball fans, we all know that long stretches of tough breaks have been par for the course, but this latest stretch was a particularly bad one, even by Clemson Basketball standards.
It started back in January of 2018. The Tigers were in the middle of a very successful season on the court, and most of the recruiting guru’s were forecasting the nations number one player, Zion Williamson, to commit to Clemson. He did not. Then, several months later, 5 star point guard and number one player in the state of SC Josiah Jones, committed to Tennessee. Like Williamson, many of the recruiting analysts had Jones pegged for Clemson. These were two big misses on players who could have been game changers for the program.
Then came the 2018-19 season. Coming off of a Sweet Sixteen run, expectations were high. Despite returning four starters from that team, it was a rocky season. What should have been an NCAA tournament team never made it there. Instead, their season ended with a first round loss at home to Wichita State in the NIT.
After the disappointing end to the season, the team quickly went back to work in preparation for the World University Games, as Clemson was chosen to represent the USA in the games. During a practice back in May, forward Jonathan Baehre tore an ACL. The 6’10 transfer from UNC Asheville was expected to play a huge role for the Tigers this coming season, and likely would have been one of the focal points of the offense. In June, point guard Clyde Trapp also suffered a torn ACL. Trapp was very likely the teams starting PG for the 2019-20 season. The Tigers lost two key pieces in a span of a few weeks.
A month later Brad Brownell watched his team as they won the gold at the World University Games without Baehre or Trapp. Let’s be clear, the competition in those games doesn’t come close to resembling the level of play in the ACC, but this program needed something that could give the program a boost of energy. Without Baehre and Trapp, the coming season will feature a rotation that has a lot of youth and inexperience, but there is some good news.
Brownell has had a fantastic offseason. He brought in two grad transfers that can help immediately. PG Curran Scott from Tulsa and SF Tevin Mack from Alabama. Scott adds a veteran presence who can run the floor, and Mack adds some much needed help inside, but can also step out and shoot from the perimeter. These are two great additions that only make this team better for the upcoming season.
Brownell also went out and added two transfers that were just freshman last season. PG Nick Honor comes over from Fordham, where he started all 32 games last season and was named to the Atlantic 10 All Rookie team. Honor will have to sit out this season, but along with Dawes and Hunter, gives the Tigers a strong back court starting in the 2020-21 season.
The biggest get of the offseason was the addition of SF Khavon Moore. At 6’8, Moore was a 4 star recruit in the 2019 class and ranked as the 54th best prospect in the country in the 247 Composite Rankings. He comes over from Texas Tech and spent all of his freshman season injured, appearing in just one game. Moore has been granted a waiver by the NCAA and is immediately eligible. At one time it looked as if this team would have a severe lack of size. With Mack and Moore on board, as well as Aamir Sims and 7 footer Trey Jemmison, this team suddenly has some size as well as some athleticism in the paint.
Over the course of this offseason, Brownell brought in guys that set this program up for some success over the next few years. It would seem those moves are already paying dividends on the recruiting trail. The school picked up commitments from two Top 100 prospects last week, both power forwards. Has this program ever signed two Top 100 players in the same class?
For several years now, the topic of Brownell’s job status has come up quite often. Whether you support him or not, the best thing for this program is for Brownell to be successful. Starting over is never ideal, The extension he signed last season means he is here for a couple more seasons, minimum. He deserves a shot at coaching this talent he has brought on board, and the chance to prove once and for all that he is the right guy for this job.