The Clemson Tigers have enjoyed, what has been to outsiders, an unexpected successful season that ended in a loss against Southern Methodist University in Madison Square Garden.
After a run to the final four in the National Invitational Tournament, the Tigers saw their hopes of winning the championship come to an end when they were not able to carry over to the second half the momentum of an extremely efficient first half on both sides of the ball. The quarterfinal loss was a disappointing one but this Clemson team accomplished more than many critics expected them to.
The fact that they proved the naysayers wrong will not make the pain of the SMU loss go away or make the players feel any better about their season, but their success this season may provide the program with a lot more hype and excitement heading into next season.
There will be many story lines to look forward to and analyze as the Tigers do begin their off-season and as we move closer to next season; and it is never too early to delve into some of those stories.
The major topic that will have every fan’s attention is the tough decision facing junior forward K.J. McDaniels. His decision to remain in school or leave for the NBA will have a tremendous impact on this team going forward. McDaniels is a human highlight reel and creates a lot of excitement for this Clemson program.
His projected first-round grade may be too much to pass down, but having McDaniels return for his senior season would give this team a major boost going forward into the off-season.
Another compelling story to follow will be the contract situation of Head Coach Brad Brownell.
Brownell does not appear to be leaving anytime soon, he is on the books for another three seasons, but you could see his contract extended or possibly see him receive a pay raise after putting together another successful season as the Tigers’ head coach. He has faced a lot of criticism in the last two seasons as head coach, so it will be interesting to see if anything is added to his contract during this year’s off-season. This will not be a major story but is one to keep an eye on.
As Clemson looks to build on this season’s successes, they will do it by adding three players that should be able to contribute in producing some more offense for the Tigers.
Red-shirt freshman Patrick Rooks appeared to be, by the own admission of Brad Brownell, ready to make an immediate impact to Clemson’s 3-point game, but after sustaining a hip injury he was forced to sit out his first season as a Tiger. Patrick was able to play with the team during their summer trip to Italy; which will provide him with some playing experience before he begins his collegiate career.
Clemson will also bring in small-forward Donte Grantham. Grantham is expected to use his athleticism to help Clemson get some more points around the rim and allow them more second chance opportunities.
To go along with Grantham is Gabe DeVoe. DeVoe is a shooting guard who can provide Clemson with another driving threat to go along with Rod Hall. Hall has seemed to make a living this season by getting to the rim and scoring a lay-up or getting fouled. With some experience and work, DeVoe could develop into something similar.
Although the season has just concluded for the Tigers, this team and this program have a lot to be excited for heading into next season. Clemson appears to be a program trending upward. They will have momentum heading into next season that could elevate them yet again to a whole new level.