By Heath Bradley.
By Heath Bradley
CLEMSON —Today was the official start to the 2012-13 Clemson basketball season for members of the media. We were able to view team pictures as well as meet with players for interviews about the upcoming season.
The glaring thing was the number of new faces on this Clemson basketball team. The faces of Tanner Smith, Andre Young, and Bryan Narcisse are no longer there, but what is there is a great nucleus of young talented players. The Tigers currently have two seniors, zero juniors, seven sophomores, and five freshmen on the roster. Counting newcomer Damarcus Harrison, a sophomore transfer from BYU, the Tigers have six new faces.
One of the familiar faces is sophomore swingman K.J. McDaniels. The 6-foot-6 inch forward out of Alabama averaged 10 minutes per game in 30 appearances last year. McDaniels averaged just under five points per game in ACC play, but hopes the work he has put in this off-season will allow him to provide more of an offensive punch in an expanded role this season.
“I have done a lot of shooting and dribbling,” he said. “I’m working to be a better all-around player.”
Many people know McDaniels from the athletic plays he made above the rim last season. This year, he looks to become more of a leader on the court, while still doing what he feels he does best.
“Bringing energy and being an electrifying player,” he said.
On a team that only has two seniors, it will be important for underclassmen to also become team leaders. For McDaniels it is something he has worked on.
While still a sophomore, McDaniels understands he can lead the team, but also help the freshmen. Just a year out of first arriving on campus; he feels he can be the shoulder for the younger Tigers to lean on during the season.
“I think we can step up and do that, become leaders as young players,” McDaniel said. “It is being there with them, guiding them the right way. Letting them know what we learned as freshmen.”
McDaniels has already shown flashes of leadership before ever playing a game this year. He, along with T.J. Sapp, spent the majority of the off-season scheduling pick-up games for himself and his teammates.
“I believe it is the first step, especially in the off-season,” he said. “It is easy to lie down and do nothing, we try to get the players in and play a lot.”
While pick-up games are not organized or attended by coaches in any fashion, McDaniels feels they play a huge role in the cohesion of a team.
“We learn who we are playing with, evaluate each other’s game,” he said.
McDaniels’ leadership will prove to be a needed asset for a team that will feature 13 underclassmen in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.