Written by: Rodrigo Aviles
The Clemson Tigers enter the 2019-20 season in a rebuilding phase where they have recruited the talent to build a strong team moving forward. Head Coach Brad Brownell has shown that he has the potential to coach with the best of them. Brownell lead the Tigers to their best season in recent memory in 2018 when Clemson finished the year 25-10 and made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 before getting eliminated by Kansas. That season also saw the Tigers get their most ACC wins in history during a regular season with 11. Since then, Brownell has taken some criticism. His team was unable to reach the NCAA Tournament last year and lost to Wichita St. in the 2nd round of the NIT. If this season goes poorly, he could firmly be on the hot seat.
Clemson saw the departure of their leading man in Marcquise Reed who is currently playing professionally in France. Key players such Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas both graduated last year as well. This Clemson team has also seen their fair share of injuries. Clyde Trapp, who was one of the team’s top five scorers last year, will be sidelined with an ACL injury. Trapp provided solid defense and his scoring will surely be missed by the Tigers. Forward Jonathan Baehre also suffered a torn ACL and he was expected to play a big part in the Tiger’s lineup.
A few things are trending up for the Clemson Tigers though. Khavon Moore was officially cleared to play this season by the NCAA. His freshman year of college, Moore only played two minutes for Texas Tech as he spent the year dealing with injuries. As a high schooler, Moore was considered a four-star recruit. His senior year he was ranked No. 44 by Rivals.com and No. 43 by ESPN. During his senior year in high school Moore averaged 22.5 points, 4.6 assist, 9.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 2.2 steals per game. Moore is more than capable on both side of the court and will add additional depth to the Clemson team.
Offensively, the Tigers will be looking to strengthen their back court. Sophomore John Newman III is probably the most experienced guard, but he only averaged 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last year.
Guard Curran Scott was brought in from Tulsa. He represents a shooting threat for the Tigers. He led the Tulsa team in 3-pointers last year with 41 and shot 39.4 percent from the three and shot 40.7 percent from the floor. In addition, freshmen Chase Hunter and Al-Amir Dawes could see extensive minutes throughout the season.
Many Tigers fans are happy to see senior Tevin Mack opt to spend his final year of eligibility with Clemson. Previously, Mack had been playing for Alabama where he ended the year third in double-digit scoring and fourth in scoring for the Crimson Tide. Before playing for Alabama, Mack was a top 50 recruit at Texas where he played some of his best basketball until some off-court problems left him out of favor. Mack, a Columbia native, was excited at the prospect of playing for Coach Brownell, as well as returning home to South Carolina.
The ACC released their Predicted Order of Finish list where Clemson landed in 11th place. ESPN had Clemson finishing 13th in the ACC. John Gassaway a college basketball writer, had the Tigers finishing dead last. The consensus seems to be Clemson will be ending their season around the 11th,12th, and 13th spots.
The Hokies will open their season against the Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum as both teams prepare for a season with plenty of challenges. This will be a crucial first ACC matchup for the Hokies and one, given the projections, should be a fairly close game.