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2014-15 College Basketball ACC Team Previews: Clemson Tigers

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Jeff Zelevansky

There's More HOOps Week!

Last season: 19-11 (10-8), 6th in ACC, KenPom #50, RPI #78

Project Starters:
Landry Nnoko, C, 6'10", 255, Junior
Jaron Blossomgame, F, 6'7", 215, Sophomore
Rod Hall, G, 6'1", 205, Senior
Jordan Roper, G, 6'0", 165, Junior
Damarcus Harrison, G, 6'4", 205, Senior

With a 19-11 (10-8 ACC) regular season record, the Clemson Tigers just barely missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season. The Tigers made a deep run into the NIT as a No. 3 seed, eventually losing to the No. 1-seeded SMU Mustangs, 65-59 in the NIT semifinals to end their season.

Leading the team last year was K.J. McDaniels, who had team bests 17.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He shot 30.4% from beyond the arc and 45.9% overall. And now the All-ACCer is gone after having been drafted by and signing with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Key returners for the Tigers include senior point guard and team leader Rod Hall, junior guard Jordan Roper, junior center Landry Nnoko and redshirt sophomore forward Jaron Blossomgame.

You can expect the team to turn to Hall, who averaged 9.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last season, to be the replacement scoring threat for the Tigers. Hall's points per game are the most for any returning Clemson player, which means that the Tigers have no experienced double-digit scorer from last season. Supporting Hall will be Roper and senior guard Demarcus Harrison, who averaged 7.4 and 7.8 points per game, respectively.

In the frontcourt, Clemson gets back Blossomgame and Nnoko. Statistically, there's not much to phone home about for either of these players. Blossomgame has 4.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while Nnoko has 6.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Nnoko was third in the conference last year with 2.0 blocks per game (Clemson's McDaniels led with 2.8, and by comparison, UVA's Mike Tobey led the Hoos with 1.1 blocks). At 6'10 and 255 pounds, Nnoko is likely to frustrate many teams' ability to penetrate to the inside.

Looking at Clemson's schedule, the Tigers have four schools coming from one of the power conferences in Rutgers, Arkansas, Auburn and South Carolina for a ho hum schedule before they open their ACC campaign by hosting North Carolina. Clemson's conference schedule has them playing Georgia Tech, NC State, Notre Dame and Florida State twice each. They play host to North Carolina and Syracuse, and travel to UVA, Louisville and Duke.

Bottom line, Clemson has the pieces to put together a respectable 2014-15 campaign. The Tigers should be seeing the post-season again, and if they can find some offense to replace McDaniels, that could mean the big dance. Otherwise, the Clemson defense is only good enough to bring them to the NIT.