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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 19th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Clemson Tigers


Overall Rank: #54

Conference Rank: #7 ACC


2005-06: 19-13, 7-9, 7th (t)

2005-06 postseason: NIT


Even though Clemson lost their top two scorers, Coach Oliver Purnell’s group is talented and has the ability to surpass the mid-level ACC teams in the conference.  The perimeter trio of Vernon Hamilton, Cliff Hammonds and K.C. Rivers are the most underappreciated backcourt in the ACC.  Hamilton, the point guard, and Hammonds both averaged double digit points and over 3.0 assists per contest.  Rivers showed plenty of promise as a part-time starter during his freshman campaign and is expected to contribute even more as a sophomore.


Who’s Out: The frontcourt’s big loss is Akin Akingbala who stepped up last year and averaged 12.1 points and 8.2 rebounds as a senior.  Steve Allen also took his game to a new level last season when he was asked to play a bigger role for Clemson.  The 6-10 center only averaged 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds, but was an important part of the frontcourt coming off the bench.  Leading scorer Shawan Robinson has also run out of eligibility.  The 6-2 guard averaged 12.3 points and added on 2.7 assists and 2.2 rebounds during his senior campaign.  Troy Mathis, who saw action in 20 games, has opted to transfer after his sophomore season.


Who’s In: Big men Karolis Petrukonis, A.J. Tyler and Trevor Booker will add to the depth up front.  Petrukonis is a typical European big man who can battle inside and step outside to hit the jumper.  At 6-11, 270 pounds, the Lithuanians size alone makes him an attractive option to have an immediate impact.  Tyler has a decent short jumper of his own and, with a little additional strength, can become a contributor for the Tigers.  Booker might be the best of the bunch and has the tenacity to be a factor on the glass right away.   David Potter will provide some much needed depth on the wings.  The 6-6 small forward won’t shoot the long ball with consistency, but he can get to the rim and make the short jumpers. 


Who to Watch: Two years ago it was Sharrod Ford, last year it was Akingbala, this year it will be somebody else.  There usually are questions surrounding the Tigers frontcourt this time of year, but come January we always have an answer.  With the pressing style that Clemson will play, depth in the paint is a high priority.  James Mays only played in 11 games last year before running into eligibility issues.  Mays averaged 9.2 points and 7.6 boards and will take his starting spot back.  In Mays absence, then freshmen Julius Powell and Raymond Sykes earned valuable experience and, in the case of Powell, will battle for a starting job.  Sam Perry started 22 contests last year and always provides some energy to the team. 


Final Projection: The starting five is full of possibilities.  If Petrukonis can eventually start at some point this season, it means Mays can move to his more natural position at power forward.  That would leave Perry and Powell both coming off the bench, unless of course we take into account the lack of depth on the perimeter.  If Rivers starts at the three, it leaves few options off the bench.  Thus, ideally, Perry or Powell would start at the three, Mays at the four and Petrukonis at the five.  But that might not get the best five on the floor.  Needless to say, Coach Purnell will be mulling over his options and having depth is always an enviable problem.  In the end, the ACC will keep the Tigers away from the NCAAs once again, but with one senior on the roster, we’ll pencil them in the field of 65 for 2008.  Yet the high pressure defense will create an upset or two and, as always, be fun to watch.      


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

Vernon Hamilton, Senior, Guard, 12.0 points per game

Cliff Hammonds, Junior, Guard, 10.1 points per game

K.C. Rivers, Sophomore, Guard, 7.1 points per game

Julius Powell, Sophomore, Forward, 5.5 points per game

James Mays, Junior, Forward, 9.2 points per game

56 Oregon » Complete List » 54 Clemson

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