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Holmes looking to elevate game offensively

Oct 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Avery Holmes of the Clemson Tigers speaks to the media during ACC Operation Basketball at The Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Avry Holmes is a well-rounded player who does a little bit of everything for the Clemson basketball team, but his calling card is defense.

The senior point guard is a tenacious defender who finished second on the team with 35 steals a season ago, his first in a Clemson uniform after transferring from San Francisco and sitting out the 2014-15 seasons per NCAA rules.

The better the competition got, the better Holmes defended.

Holmes swiped 27 of his 35 steals in the 18 regular season ACC games, and during that same stretch, the primary player he guarded for opposing teams shot just 33 percent (62-of-186).

“Coach (Brad Brownell) emphasized defense, so we’re known as a defensive team and that won’t change,” Holmes said on Wednesday at the ACC Operation Basketball media day event in Charlotte. “During each and every practice, he emphasizes that hard work on defense is going to win us games.”

So, one can expect more of the same from Holmes defensively during the upcoming campaign.

But heading into the season, Holmes is looking to take his game to another level offensively.

“Just being more of a scorer,” Holmes said when asked how he sees his role changing this year. “Better leadership, but being more aggressively offensively.”

Holmes was a solid across-the-board contributor on offense a year ago, especially from beyond the arc.

Holmes, who has hit 148 3-point field goals during his career, ranked second among Clemson players with 50 3-point field goals in 2015.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder was also Clemson’s third-leading scorer at 10 points per game and second-leading assister with 80 assists (2.8 per game).

Holmes averaged nearly as many points and assists in his first season at an ACC member school as he did in the West Coast Conference as a sophomore in 2013-14, when he started all 33 games and led San Francisco with a 12.5 scoring average while averaging 3.1 assists per game.

Holmes credited head coach Brownell for helping him become a better player during his sit-out season, and he has confidence he can improve again in his final year at Clemson.

“I would say in a sit-out year you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Holmes said. “I try to take advantage of a sit-out year. It prepared me for last year.

“But being able to play under coach Brownell for actually one year is a big difference. So I’m feeling really confident this coming season.”

The native of Salem, Ore., was a pillar of consistency for Clemson last season, starting all 31 games and averaging 31 minutes per contest, and his performance will again be important to a squad hoping to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

Holmes is confident in his abilities heading into the season, and he’s confident in his teammates, too.

“I feel really good about this team,” Holmes said. “Confident. I know we’re going to work hard each and every game. But being here, I feel like it’s one of the best teams I’ve been on, so I’m just ready to play.”

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