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Clemson gets ‘rare combination’ in grad transfer

With the departures of center Sidy Djitte and power forward Jaron Blossomgame from last season’s Clemson men’s basketball team, the Tigers wanted to add depth to their frontcourt ahead of the 2017-18 season.

They did just that and filled a need by landing Mark Donnal, a fifth-year transfer from Michigan.

Donnal has signed his financial-aid agreement with Clemson and is immediately eligible to compete for the Tigers after graduating from Michigan last weekend.

“We’re really excited,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said on Wednesday at the Greenville Clemson Club Prowl & Growl event at Fluor Field. “He was a highly sought-after fifth-year player this year, and he’ll be a good player for us.”

Donnal appeared in 101 games over three seasons with the Wolverines. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound center totaled 512 points and 265 rebounds for Michigan as he helped the program to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths, and a Big Ten Tournament title and Sweet 16 appearance in 2016-17.

As a redshirt sophomore in 2015-16, Donnal averaged 7.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, and started 25 games. However, his playing time diminished as a redshirt junior, when he averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

Brownell believes Donnal will be a valuable contributor in his final year of eligibility with the Tigers.

“Mark is going to be a good player for us. He’s a rare combination,” Brownell said. “He’s a physical guy, big and strong, but he can shoot 3’s. We haven’t had a guy that has really shot 3’s from the five spot. He comes from a winning program, which I think is important, and he’s an older player, something we needed. We needed an older guy, especially in the frontcourt for depth.”

Donnal figures to see regular action in Clemson’s frontcourt with Djitte and Blossomgame gone. Junior forward Elijah Thomas projects to be a starter in the post, with senior Legend Robertin, redshirt junior David Skara and freshmen Aamir Simms and Malik William expected to compete for minutes inside.

Donnal, who chose Clemson over Creighton and Vanderbilt, felt Clemson presented the best opportunity for him.

“I know Clemson wanted to add a post player, and I was comfortable with the coaching staff and their vision of me within their system,” Donnal said in a statement provided by Clemson. “I was looking to play against the best competition, and there’s no better place for that than the ACC. I thought Clemson was the best fit for me as I continue to elevate my game to the next level and help the Tigers make it to the NCAA Tournament.”

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