Clemon Basketball: Looking Ahead To The 2020-21 Season
Clemson basketball fans found themselves taking the ultimate roller-coaster ride last season. They experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows.
To be frank, it was an odd season. Very odd. It included wins over No. 3 Duke, No. 5 Louisville and a buzzer-beating win over No. 6 Florida State.
It also included an overtime win in Chapel Hill over North Carolina, something the Tigers had never done before. The 59-game losing streak had become one of the more dubious streaks in all of sports, and breaking it was something many fans thought they'd never see in their lifetimes.
However, outside of the Chapel Hill win, all of those big wins came at home. Finding success on the road was a little more tricky for head coach Brad Brownell's Tigers.
There was an early-season home loss to Yale, and a bad road loss late to Virginia Tech. Then, on the bubble of the NCAA tournament, a terrible loss at home to Georgia Tech to end the season. Clemson finished the season just 3-8 on the road.
Last season the Tigers became far more reliant on the three-point shot than it has in recent seasons. A lack of size and better shooters precipitated the change in style, but the team had a hard time finding that one guy they could count on to hit the big shots night in and night out.
Suffice it to say, it was a season that produced a mixed bag of results. Injuries and youth played a part, but the end result was still another season of inconsistency under Brownell.
There are some reasons to be optimistic, however. The roster has some young talent that oftentimes showed flashes of just how good they could be.
Al-Amir Dawes was forced to grow up on the court during his freshman season, and by the end of the season was playing his best basketball. The young guard looks to only be better in his second season, after averaging nine points per game last year.
John Newman III is another guy who showed lots of promise last season, averaging almost 10 points per game. Heading into his junior season, he needs to take that next step in his development and become more consistent shooting the ball.
After missing 16 games early due to injury, Alex Hemenway came on and showed he could possibly be that consistent three-point threat the team has lacked the past two seasons, hitting 20 of his 42 shots from beyond the arc.
Chase Hunter, a former Top 150 prospect will be in his second season in the program, and Khavon Moore, a former Top 60 player who transferred from Texas Tech, will also be back.
Point guard Nick Honor will be eligible after sitting out last season due to transfer rules, giving senior Clyde Trapp some help running the point. Trapp will also be more than a year removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL and should be back to 100 percent.
There's also some good news on the size front too. Jonathan Baehre looks to be back after tearing the same ACL twice in a six-month span, and the number one high school player in the state, four-star forward PJ Hall, also joins the fold.
Although, there is one unknown at the moment. Aamir Simms has announced that he will go through the process of entering the NBA Draft, but the team's leading scorer from a season ago does still have the option to return for his senior season.
How good this team can be next season largely depends on what happens with Simms, and the health of Baehre. Not having Simms would be a huge blow, but not having both could be disastrous.
That would leave the still developing Tre Jemison and the true freshman Hall as the team's big men, which would leave the team at a huge disadvantage many nights during ACC play.
If the Tigers do get Simms back for one more season, however, there is no reason this team shouldn't be competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Next season will be Brownell's eleventh at the helm, and there is a portion of the fan base that has run of patience. Anything less than making the tournament will have Tigers' embattled head coach finally starting to feel some real heat.