Though Brad Brownell is entering his eighth season as Clemson men’s basketball coach, in a way, it’s a new era for him and his Tigers.
In the off-season, Brownell had to make a change to his coaching staff when he parted ways with good friend and longtime assistant coach Mike Winiecki. He also said good-bye to All-ACC forward Jaron Blossomgame, who is now playing in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs, as well as center Sidy Djitte and guard Avery Holmes.
So as college basketball practice begins on Sunday for everyone around the country, Brownell welcomes a new coach in Antonio Reynolds Dean and new players such as Michigan graduate transfer Mark Donnal, transfer David Skara from Valparaiso and freshmen Clyde Trapp, Anthony Oliver, Aamir Simms and Malik William.
In other words, there are a lot of new faces in the program this year, as Clemson tries to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first since Brownell’s first year here in 2010-’11.
“It is a little bit of a new team, certainly,” Brownell said. “I think Jaron, Sidy and Avery were certainly guys that have kind of been leaders of the program, Jaron especially, over the last several years. So there is a new influx of freshmen, which I think brings a great deal of inquiry and enthusiasm, but at the same time we have some naïve guys out there a little bit.
“The Spain trip was really good. It gave is a little bit of advance experience and allowed those guys an opportunity to kind of get out there and learn a few things about how we practice a little bit and about how we play.”
Even with all the new stuff going on inside the men’s program, the Tigers also welcome back a lot of experience in players such as Donte Grantham, Shelton Mitchell, Elijah Thomas, Gabe DeVoe and Marcquise Reed.
Clemson will tip off the regular season on Nov. 10 against Western Carolina.
Watch Brownell talk about the opening day of practice and much more on TCITV: