For the first time in 50 years, Clemson will play Florida Saturday on the hardwood as part of the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla.
And for the first time this season, the Tigers will have forward David Skara, a 2016 transfer from Valparaiso, available to play against the 22nd-ranked Gators.
Skara missed the first nine games of the season due to an NCAA violation when he was still at Valparaiso.
“It is not as easy as folks realize to bring in a new guy in the middle of the season. Obviously, we had to deal with it a little bit last year with Elijah (Thomas),” Brownell said. “He is going to play.”
Skara (6-8, 208) is a defensive-minded, physically-tough wing player who will give the Tigers a little more muscle as well as a little suaveness in their lineup. Those around the Clemson program say he reminds them of a little bigger and more physical Tanner Smith, who plays the game smart and is a good passer.
“He is going to help us,” Brownell said. “He is a guy we think can help us defend multiple positions and offensively he is a guy that still has to get comfortable because he just has not played very much.”
The Tigers will try to ease Skara into the rotation, a rotation that right now is seeing four of Clemson starters’ average about 31 minutes a game. In last week’s win over Samford, the Clemson bench scored just three points.
Skara can ease some of those minutes.
“He has not mastered all of our stuff quite as well as some of ours guys that have been playing a lot,” Brownell said. “Physically, he is different. He is a big wing. He is athletic. He can defend multiple positions.”
Clemson will need help when defending a Florida lineup that is long and athletic. The Gators (6-3) have a 6-foot-6 guard in Jalen Hudson, who is averaging 19.1 points per game, and another, who is 6-foot-5, in Egor Koulechove, who is averaging 16.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
“This isn’t an easy game to get thrown back into the wolves to, but we are certainly glad we have him,” Brownell said. “They have so many guys they can throw on the perimeter that can score and attack. You are going to need depth in that area.”
The Tigers are hoping to keep their good start to the season going when the two teams tip off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday from the BB&T Center. Brownell will also be going for his 300th career win.
In the last 40 years, Clemson has started a season 8-1 or better 16 times, including this season. Of those previous 15 occasions, Clemson has made the postseason 14 times. Those postseasons include 6 NCAA Tournament teams.
–Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports