Today we continue our look at Clemson’s best freshmen seasons ever. No. 4-6 in this edition.
The next three names on our top ten list of the greatest freshman seasons in Clemson’s athletic history represent three different sports. This installment includes one of the most valuable basketball players to ever hit the hardwood for the Tigers and a pair of individual athletes who each made a legitimate run at a national title during his inaugural season at Clemson. Each of these players set the standard for play within the ACC during his freshman campaign, making them among the best first-year performers in conference history.
6. Greg Buckner, Men’s Basketball, 1994-95: Before he completed an historic career as a Tiger hoopster, Buckner showcased his leadership skills as a freshman. He was tops on the 1994-95 team in scoring (12.0 points per game), rebounding (5.9 boards per game), steals (63), and field goal percentage (.526). The 63 steals is the best total in school history for a freshman.
Buckner was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Year following the season, the only player in Clemson history to earn that distinction. He was also a three-time Rookie of the Week selection and made 16 consecutive field goals during a stretch in December.
5. Kyle Stanley, Men’s Golf, 2006-07: Stanley enjoyed a phenomenal freshman season in which he finished seventh in the Sagarin ratings and tied the school record by shooting a 7-under 65 for his third round en route to a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships. His stroke average of 70.87 is best in school history for freshmen (and second-best overall) by a wide margin.
Stanley won both the ACC Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Awards at season’s end. In the storied history of Clemson men’s golf, only Richard Coughlin and D.J. Trahan have won either of those awards. His performance at the NCAA Championships as an individual is widely considered to be the second-best in school history, behind only Charles Warren’s victory.
4. Lawson Duncan, Men’s Tennis, 1984: Duncan is still Clemson’s only ITA Rookie of the Year, a well-deserved honor given his exploits during the 1984 season. His 70 singles victories ranks first in school history, 13 wins away from the next-closest player. He was 15-3 in three-set matches and 13-6 in tiebreakers during the campaign.
Duncan was an All-America selection after he ranked fourth in ITA Singles and was the runner-up in the NCAA Singles Tournament. After winning his first five matches in straight sets, he lost to Georgia’s Michael Penfors in the championship match. For his efforts during his season as a Tiger, Duncan was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary Team.