Nov. 11, 2011
CLEMSON, SC – Make no mistake, Brad Brownell and his coaching staff know what they want when they go after basketball players to fill their roster each year.
“We try to recruit kids that we think can help us be successful,” the Clemson coach said. “They are good players, good kids, from good programs that want to be coached and that want to be successful.”
Brownell and the men’s program did all of those things in signing a class earlier this week that has two top-100 players, one of the top point guard prospects in the country, and a 6-foot-11 center that is rated by ESPNU as one of the best prospects at his position.
In all, the Tigers signed five to national letters-of-intent Wednesday as part of the early signing period. Clemson inked signatures from Jaron Blossomgame (6-7, forward), Adonis Filer (6-2, guard), Landry Nnoko (6-11, center), Jordan Roper (6-0, guard) and Josh Smith (6-8, forward).
Brownell says all his new players fall into the same mold he has on his roster currently, which he believes bodes well for the future of the program.
“I was fortunate to fall into a team that had a bunch of those guys when I got here,” he said. “Oliver (Purnell’s) teams had good levels of athleticism, and I think we have good levels of athleticism. Where we are located, it is easier to recruit these kinds of guys because there are more guys that are athletic and do things that are difficult to coach. I like the kind of guys we have recruited.”
There is a lot to like. Blossomgame is a four-star prospect that averaged 24 points and 8.8 rebounds a game as an all-state selection at Chattahoochee High School in Alpharetta, GA. Roper led Irmo High School (Columbia, SC) to the AAAA State Championship, while averaging 20.4 points, 3.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. He was named the State Player of the Year as a junior.
Filer led his Bishop Noll (Hammond, IN) to a 26-1 record last season, while averaging 16 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while Smith averaged 10.8 points and 9.5 boards per game while leading his Olympic High School team (Charlotte, NC) to a 28-2 overall record.
Then there is Nnoko, who originally hails from Yaounde, Cameroon. He moved to the United States last year and played for Montverde Academy in Florida, where he is rated as the No. 19 prospect at center by ESPNU.
“We had to make sure we recruited a couple of guys that could score,” Brownell said. “In Jaron, we wanted another big wing. We lose Tanner (Smith) next year, who is a little bit different in terms of skill set. They will not have Tanner’s seasoning, poise or ball-handling, but the athleticism is there.
“Then, we needed two physical bodies inside. We needed to solidify the post in case of injury and for strength purposes. Devin (Booker) and Milton (Jennings) will be here next year and have good years as seniors, so that would be a great opportunity for Landry, Josh and Bernard (Sullivan) to continue to learn from those guys.”
And as Brownell pointed out, there still might be room to add one more player to this year’s class in the spring.
“We knew we wanted to get five,” Brownell said. “The (possibility of a) sixth has been like, `Hey, we will see what happens.’ We knew we wanted two guards. We knew we wanted two post players and we had Jaron committed for a long time, so we were fine.
“We basically have almost the exact same thing ahead of us, which is never easy when you are recruiting kids on top of kids. That’s the challenge for the class of 2013. There are two classes of 10 (players) ahead of you, that might not be as appealing to recruits as open spaces. That’s where we are coming from. If we hold it for 2013, that is great because it gives us a third scholarship. If there is a transfer we want to pursue, we can do that. If we watch through the course of the year or find out about a guy that can really play, then we can use that.
“We have kind of held onto that sixth potential scholarship, but we recruited to the idea that we would try and sign five.”
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