For the past few years, Clemson fans became accustomed to Tom Wideman and Harold Jamison throwing bodies around like a pair of NFL tackles. While Jamison and Wideman each shot the ball with the touch of a Howitzer, the two wide bodies ruled the paint, ripping down rebounds and stifling opposing big men with their rugged defense.
In direct contrast, 7-1 Adam Allenspach would usually glide through the middle, preferring instead to set up outside the paint and hit 12-foot jumpers with pillow-soft touch. Not bad for a guard or small forward but not exactly what Clemson coaches had in mind for their tallest player. In limited action, Allenspach averaged only 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
This season, with Wideman and Jamison graduated, Allenspach (“Spock” to his teammates) returns as Clemson’s anchor in the middle. He also returns as a bigger, more physical player intent on becoming a force down low. Allenspach has added 17 pounds of muscle to his sizable frame over the summer, boosting his weigh from 245 pounds to 262.
“I’ve worked out and gotten stronger- that’s one of the main things this year is for me to be bigger and stronger,” says the Parkland, Florida junior.
While most people struggle to shed pounds, Allenspach has battled to gain them. When he arrived at Clemson two years ago, Allenspach tipped the scales at only 229-pounds- not much for a human skyscraper.
“I couldn’t gain weight. I was trying so hard and just ate everything I possibly could,” he says.
Working with Clemson’s strength and conditioning coaches finally produced results, with weight
training and a high carbohydrate diet eventually providing Allenspach with some much-needed girth.
Adding weight hasn’t been all Allenspach has worked on in this off-season. This summer, he honed his skills touring with the NIT all-star team in The Czech Republic. Clemson head coach Larry Shyatt says that the overseas experience helped boost his center’s confidence.
“He has probably battled a confidence problem in the past because he is such a good person. I thought it was a great step for him to not only get experience, but to also have somebody from outside to tell him, “You’re pretty good and you can be outstanding,” Shyatt says.
Allenspach’s off-court persona is just as impressive as his physical stature. He is soft-spoken and amicable, an excellent student and citizen who emphasizes the team’s cumulative GPA almost as much as its won-loss record. However, Allenspach knows that he must accept a leadership role on this season’s inexperienced team.
“I’m not real outspoken. Coach Shyatt has really stressed the importance of talking, especially to the new guys. Sometimes an example isn’t always the best thing. You just need to be vocal and help them out. I try to lead in the classroom and get good grades but I’m definitely going to be more vocal,” he says.
While teams often boast “twin towers,” a center-forward combination like LSU had with Shaquille O’Neal and Stanley Roberts and the Houston Rockets with Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon, the Allenspach’s are one of very few families that can make such a claim. Brian Allenspach, Adam’s twin, plays at Western Kentucky under former Clemson coach Dennis Felton.
Strangely enough, the two started out as baseball players, with Adam at pitcher and Brian as his catcher. Adam says that growing up with his brother was fun, but attending the same college would have been difficult.
“I liked it. There was always somebody there to play with- you were never lonely. Sometimes it was hard as far as our identity when everyone put us together. I think that’s why we chose different schools,” he says.
Adam and Brian are exceptionally close, each supporting the other through the occasionally tumultuous life of a college athlete.
“He’s always been there as far as a crutch, emotionally. He calls just to see how everything is going. He just helps me out,” Adam says of his brother.