By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Junior Milton Jennings has had his share of ups and downs this season, however after coming back from his second suspension the Tigers’ have gone on a streak of winning 5 of their last 7 with Jennings providing some offensive power that Clemson fans didn’t see much of earlier in the season.
“I wouldn’t call this season a strange one, I’d just say that everyone has challenges put into their life and it depends on what you do with those challenges,” Jennings said. “I think that I took my challenges and turned them into opportunities and I’ve been excited with my play as of late and I think my coaches have been too.”
What did Jennings do to help himself get into the coaching staff’s good graces?
“It was opportunity for me to further my game,” Jennings said. “At the same time we all got on the same page and same team. We put down some ground rules that I agreed to and the coaching staff agreed to, we got on an even keel and we’re good.”
Since the suspension, Jennings has become one of the main scoring threats for the Tigers’ as he’s gained confidence in both his midrange jumper and outside shot. What has changed for the junior?
“You have to look at it as your opportunity’s slipping away,” Jennings said. “I go to school and play basketball, that’s all I do and when I saw that I knew it was time to get serious. My whole mindset is different and I just want to finish off the season the best I can.”
When watching Jennings play it’s easy to notice that his confidence is building game by game, and as that happens his offensive game improves. What sealed his confidence coming back?
“Coming back when I played against Maryland I was able to make a few shots and I think that sealed my confidence, being able to make three threes,” Jennings said. “That set it off for me, knowing that I can shoot and always have been able to. My coaching staff came in and told me that I’m a great shooter and should shoot more, dribble less, so I started to shoot more and it’s just been falling.”
Has there been any thought for Jennings about next season and having to be “the guy” after Andre Young, Tanner Smith, Bobo, and Bryan Narcisse leave after this season?
“I’ve been preparing for that and the seniors now have been doing a good job of getting Devin and I ready to take the throne,” Jennings said. “They’re great leaders and I’ve learned from all four of them about work ethic and how to handle the younger players. I’ve started to take that role and it’s only given me more confidence during this season. I look forward to next season and leading the freshmen into their sophomore year and the incoming freshmen.”
As for Clemson’s match up in the ACC tournament with Virginia Tech a team that they just played earlier last week, Jennings would rather be facing a team that the Tigers’ haven’t played lately, but looks at this as a tiebreaker between the two teams.
“You’d rather play someone that you haven’t played in a while because we did just play, but at the same time I look at this as a tiebreaker since we’re 1-1 against each other this season,” Jennings said. “I’m taking this as a personal game, I’d like to come out and have a better performance than I did the last time we faced them. I rebounded well, but I’d like to be a little more aggressive but at the same time stay into the team’s plan and hopefully win the game.”
Both Jennings and senior Tanner Smith believe that Clemson is going into the ACC Tournament this season with nothing to lose.
“We have nothing to lose, all we can do is win,” Jennings said. “If we lose we know what we did, we let a few go early in the season, lost a bunch of games by one possession. Yes it’s heartbreaking but we know that we can go out there and win these games now, you’ve got a very focused team going into the ACC Tournament and it could turn out to be very good.”