Aamir Simms personified Clemson basketball for multiple seasons.
From scoring to rebounding to being the face of the program, Simms did everything for the Tigers, who made the NCAA tournament last year in large part to Simms' presence.
Heading into the 2021-2020 season opener on Nov. 9, the fan favorite, ambassador and leader of the Tiger team that won the gold medal at the 2019 World University Games opted not to return to Clemson earlier this year.
"Aamir was a significant loss," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. "Terrific player who had an unbelievable career at Clemson. As much as the points and rebounds, it was his personality. It was the way he approached practice every day, his work ethic, his smile, his personality. It just rubbed off on everyone. We're going to miss a lot about him."
Brownell acknowledges that there isn't an easy way to replace what Simms gave the program, but the Tigers still have to make up for his production. Simms averaged a team-high 13.4 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per contest. He scored 1,122 points, hit 110 3-pointers, grabbed 636 rebounds and dished out 198 assists in his four-year career
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"Obviously there's not one player that you're going to go recruit or sign that's going to be like him, but I do think we have brought in some guys like Naz (Bohannon) here and David Collins that are experienced and older players," Brownell said. "We've got a player like Hunter Tyson who's been in our program for four years and understands our culture and what's important to Clemson to win and be successful. I think that in terms of the productivity, it'll be a bunch of different guys."
Bohannon and Collins are transfer-portal pickups who bring past production. Bohannon averaged 16.5 points and 8.2 rebounds for Youngstown State a year ago while Collins contributed 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest at USF last season.
And then there's Tyson, who emerged as a more reliable offensive weapon for the Tigers in 2020-21. He gave Clemson 7.5 points per game and shot 43.1 percent from behind the arc as a sophomore.
Brownell mentioned sophomore center P.J. Hall as another player who will help fill up a stat sheet left behind by Simms. And while production is important, replacing other areas Simms gave the Tigers in the locker room and on the court could prove more difficult this year, but Brownell believes the influence can carry over.
"I think the attitude, the personality part is just going out and getting good guys, and we've done that," Brownell said. "We've gotten guys that like each other, that are respectful of the older players. We have a good morale. We have a good feeling in our program and team, and some of that's because of the guys like Aamir Simms."
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