After a long off-season, Clemson opens the regular season on Wednesday night, in the Space Coast Challenge in Melbourne, Fla. against Mississippi State.
Th Bulldogs boast three straight 20 win seasons but lost their top four scorers and are looking to continue their success with a fresh lineup. But the Tigers return an experienced lineup led by preseason first team All-ACC selection Aamir Simms.
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell knows Mississippi State has created a culture of success and brings a lengthy lineup to the court on Wednesday.
“Coach Howland does an unbelievable job over there and always has big, strong, talented teams,” Brownell said. “They defend the basket really well and Ado inside is a really experienced and outstanding defensive player.”
Redshirt junior Abdul Ado leads the Bulldogs and provides a daunting presence on the defensive side. He averaged 5.7 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game, but has 182 career blocks … the sixth best mark in Mississippi State history.
Last season Clemson caught the injury bug and for a chunk of the season it only had seven active scholarship players. Those players combined to miss 75 games on the season.
Two key guards, sophomore Chase Hunter and senior Clyde Trapp missed significant time with a fractured foot and torn ACL, respectively. Brownell said Trapp is close to 100-percent and Hunter has been cleared to practice and may get some time during the tournament in Florida.
The Tigers also inked a top-20 recruiting class in the offseason when they signed P.J. Hall, Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Lynn Kid. The 2020 class was the highest ranked freshman class for the program since 2009.
Nick Honor, a transfer from Fordham, missed the 2019-20 season because of NCAA transfer protocols. The guard is now eligible to play and rounds out a talented group of guards.
Besides the guard play, the versatility of Simms should work wonders for Clemson on both sides of the floor. But Mississippi State poses a threat with their size and defensive presence.
Clemson and Mississippi State tip off the season at 8 p.m., at Titan Field House. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.