CLEMSON -- Two members of Clemson's much ballyhooed freshman class of two
years ago are leaving the basketball program.
Rising juniors Tony Stockman and Dwon Clifton each filed the necessary
paperwork with the NCAA and have been granted their releases by Clemson
University, the school announced Thursday. If they transfer to another
Division I school, as expected, each will have two years of eligibility
remaining after sitting out the 2002-2003 season.
"They are fine young men who have represented the program well," head coach
Larry Shyatt said in a statement. "They both worked hard to overcome medical
problems this past year. Both will remain in school the rest of the semester
and we will help them any way we can in the transfer
While Clifton's departure was somewhat expected, Stockman's seemed to catch
many by surprise.
He was a major contributor to the team off the bench as a freshman, and was
the starting two guard this past season. He averaged 12.2 points per game
last season, the top sophomore mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and led
Clemson with 80 3-pointers made. He was second on the team with 64 assists.
But Stockman began discussing the possibility of transferring with his mother
a few weeks ago, when Shyatt's job status was in doubt. Reached on campus
Thursday evening, Stockman said those discussions ultimately led to his
desire to play closer to his Medina, Ohio, home, even after Shyatt was given
a two-year extension earlier this month.
"It was a really hard (decision). I like it here and had a lot of fun," he
said. "It would be different if I wasn't getting any playing time. Then it
would be an easy decision. But I just feel like I can get the same
opportunity playing closer to home."
Stockman said he plans to look at both Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State as
possible new schools.
Clifton - Stockman's roommate - struggled last season after showing promise
as a freshman. He averaged just 3.2 points per game in limited time as a
sophomore, and often found himself being used in mostly defensive situations
as the season progressed. He shot just 30.5 percent from the field and an
abysmal 44.4 percent from the foul line.
Clifton said his idea of where he stands in Clemson's program after two years
isn't where he envisioned himself when he came here two years ago.
"The things I have in mind, the goals I have, I don't think I'll reach them
here," he said. "I needed to be man enough to tell the coaches how I felt
about it, and instead of staying here and being a cancer to the team it's
best if I go. My heart's not here anymore, and if I stay that would be doing
the team more harm than good."
Clifton appears to be leaning heavily toward transferring to the University
of North Carolina-Greensboro, though he said Notre Dame may be an option, as
Shyatt, reached Thursday afternoon at an NCAA coaches convention in Atlanta,
said he expects to fill just one of the two open scholarships this season,
and will do so with another perimeter player.
"We've got the four post players back who allowed us to lead the ACC in
rebounding, plus Stevie (Allen) and (incoming freshman) Akin (Akinbala),
which gives us six," he said. "If it's the right guy, we'll sign one more
perimeter player. We've got our eyes on 3-4 here and a couple
Stockman and Clifton bring to six the total number of players leaving the
Clemson program early in the last two years.
A year ago, Will Solomon passed up his senior season for the NBA, and was the
33rd overall pick when he was taken by the Memphis Grizzlies. Pasha Bains,
Dustin Braddick and Chucky Gilmore all transferred after the 2000-2001
Still, Shyatt remains confident the Tigers are on the right track.
"This will just give guys like Chey (Christie) and Olu (Babalola) a chance to
flourish now," he said. "We'll keep working hard and moving ahead. No matter
if we've upset a top-ranked team or lost in a very disappointing manner, I
don't think we've ever lost focus.
"We always move forward and never look backward."