Tigers hope to turn momentum into another NCAA Tourney run
|Thursday, October 11, 2018, 1:54 PM- -|
SUSNET – Fresh off a run to the Sweet 16 and a six-year contract, head coach Brad Brownell and the Clemson basketball program are headed in the right direction.
Brownell received a new six-year contract earlier this year that will pay him $15 million through 2024. He's spent eight seasons at Clemson, and his previous contract was through 2021.
The Tigers were 25-11 last season, matching their best-ever win total. Their 11 Atlantic Coast Conference wins were also a school record and Clemson returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Brownell's first season in 2010-11.
Don’t expect Brownell to let up now, however.
"There are a lot of positive things going on in the program," Brownell told the media Wednesday at his golf outing at The Reserve at Lake Keowee. "Human nature is that we all take our foot off the gas a little bit when we experience some success in life. We get patted on the back a lot, feel good about ourselves. I've had a lot of conversations with our older players about that. But I don't see that in them right now. They've been pretty focused."
Brownell received good news over the offseason – three of his core players from last season decided to return to school. Leading scorer Marcquise Reed and point guard Shelton Mitchell explored the NBA draft before returning. Elijah Thomas, the 6-foot-9 forward who led Clemson in rebounds and blocked shots, decided early that he wanted another year.
Reserve forward David Skara initially indicated he wanted to go back to play professionally in his home country of Croatia but decided in August he wanted a final year at Clemson. Add in veterans like Aamir Sims, AJ Oliver, and Clyde Trapp and Brownell has a solid enough nucleus to make another tourney run this season.
"These are guys that are proven players who have been in our system," Brownell said. "And I think they're still pretty hungry and that's what's really important. I think they have things they want to do in this game and they know that they need to have productive senior years to try and help reach those goals.”
Clemson added six newcomers to the roster, including 6-10 forwards Javan White and Jonathan Baehre.
White is a graduate transfer from Oral Roberts who is eligible to play this season. Baehre started 21 games at UNC Asheville last season and must sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules, but many on the staff believe he is a future pro. Brownell also added 6-11 freshman Trey Jemison, who was recruited by Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M among others before choosing Clemson.