Clemson Basketball

Brad Brownell Previews 2023 Clemson Basketball Team

August 27, 2023

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The Clemson basketball team finished 24- 11 overall and 14-6 in the ACC (3rd) but fell short of receiving a berth in the 2023 NCAA basketball tournament. A third-place finish in the ACC is a great accomplishment considering the Tigers' history in the league but all the good feels dissipated when the Tigers, a No. 1 seed, fell 64-68 to Moorhead State in the first round of the NIT Tournament. 

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell will have eight returning players, including starters P.J.Hall (All-ACC-third team), Ian Scheffelin, and Chase Hunter (averaged 13.8 ppg, 4.5 apg), four transfers, and freshman Asa Thomas to vie for a spot in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. 

Brownell met with the media on Thursday to discuss his team starting with an injury report. 

Injury Update

  • Scheffelin has a broken finger on his shooting hand. Will be out a couple of weeks but is expected to be ready for the start of the season. 
  • Graduate senior Alex Hemenway suffered a plantar fasciitis tear last season and he continues to recover from the injury. 
  • N.C. State transfer Jack Clark (6'8, 200) is out as he recovers from a previous sports hernia injury. Clark hasn't been able to work out this summer.
  • Air Force transfer Jake Heidbreder (6'5, 180) had a stress reaction in his hip and was out for most of the summer but is currently working with the team. 
  • UNC-Greensboro transfer Bas Leyte (6'10, 220) had surgery on his ankle at the end of his time at Greensboro. He's been limited this summer though presently 'full go' but needs more time to be really comfortable. 

Brownell on how different Hall, who averaged a team-leading 15.6 ppg in 2022 and tested the NBA waters this summer, is this offseason compared to the last two when he was recovering from injuries:

"You started to see it last year. But really, because of all the injuries, it's just been challenging for him. But you saw some growth last year with him in terms of maturity, more in terms of how he carries himself dealing with all the adversity. He's had a remarkable career for a guy that's been playing hurt for two of his three years.”

"P.J. has just battled and battled and battled and now this year, having had a healthy offseason. He's been a tremendous leader. He's always been a good worker."

On the development of sophomores Chauncey Wiggins (shot 40.0 percent on threes), R.J. Godfrey (shot 59.7 percent from the floor), and Dillon Hunter (averaged 1.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, and 1.2 apg):

"Chauncey, RJ, and Dillon have all had good summers. You would hope that as sophomores, as guys that have been in your program a year and know what to expect. They all have put on a little bit of weight. I think they're mentally stronger just from, I know what to expect. I've gone through it.

"One of the best things about the sophomore guys is they were all healthy this summer. So while four guys, maybe five, have battled some injuries this summer. Those guys got all of the reps. They got a bunch of shots. They got to be primary players. They got better because of all the experiences within the system."

On what he's seen from the newcomers:

Joseph Girard III (6'1, 190 - averaged 16.7 ppg, shot over 38 percent on threes, over 85 percent on free throws at Syracuse) 

"Joe Girard is obviously a guy that can really shoot the ball and [is] very mature and focused, which I like. He and Chase have gotten along well."

On Girard dealing with the conditioning workouts at Clemson, which, according to him, are unlike what he endured at Syracuse:

"We always do our strong man, and he's not built for that. He's trying to figure out how that helps him shoot the ball, and we're trying to remind him that he's going to have to guard some people. He's doing fine. He was a little heavy when he got here, but he's dropped about 10 pounds. He looks much better and moving better. We told him we're a blue-collar working man's program, and he found it out."

Bas Leyte (averaged 7.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg in 24 minutes at UNC-Greensboro)

"Just a real positive energy guy, older guy experienced, and I think very appreciative of being at this level, which is nice to see."

Jake Heidbreder (scored a team-leading 15.1 ppg last season, shot over 39 percent from the three-point line at Air Force)

"He's a versatile guy. [He's] kind of unassuming, a little taller, almost six-five, a little quicker than you think, a really good cutter, great worker. Can shoot the ball, and he's fit in well."

On whether a decision has been made on if Heidbreder, who has two years of eligibility left, will sit out the upcoming season:

"No, we haven't. We're just watching to see how healthy everybody is. How's Alex Hemenway doing? He's had a hard summer. I feel for Alex. It's been very challenging for him. Hopefully, he's doing better. We'll find out more in the next couple of weeks, and if all is good with him, then we'll see how we approach things with Jake. But Jake has been very open the whole time, and really, during the recruiting process, was even a guy that was more than happy to redshirt. It was his idea first."

Asa Thomas (6'8, 185 - 2022 North Suburban Conference Player of the Year, led the Illinois Wolves (AAU) in scoring (15.1) during the summer of 2022):

"Asa Thomas has been great as a freshman. He's got a little cockiness, a little swagger to him. Good worker-- knows how to play. Just things we thought when we recruited him. He can shoot the ball."

On balancing the roster with transfers: 

"I think we've done a really good job through the years of when we take transfers. There's a real need. There's a real fit. We think their skill set, personality [or] whatever matches what we're trying to do. They usually come in and do well.

"We had a few extra scholarships and felt like this team could be good. We wanted to make sure that we gave this team every opportunity to try to win at a high level. So, we went out and got a couple more older guys. We're hopeful that the blend will be good."

On the difficulty in scheduling in-state rival South Carolina:

"Scheduling the South Carolina game is just hard. I've been here a long time, and the game has bounced around. We can't get a perfect time to play it. A lot of it stems from the exempt tournaments and the responsibilities to have options for that. Then, you have league games. You're trying to have important games for your guys -- take them to different places. This year, it just bounced back a little bit and my guess is it would be that way moving forward as well."

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Brad Brownell Previews 2023 Clemson Basketball Team

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