Brad Brownell has a message for Clemson’s five-man freshman class when it arrives on campus next July: be ready to work.
The readiness of the new players to jump into and take full advantage of summer strength training will be the first step toward a smooth transition, and, subsequently, of early playing time.
“It’ll be the second session of summer school,” said Brownell of the arrival of Landry Nnoko, Josh Smith, Jaron Blossomgame, Jordan Roper and Adonis Filer. “The sooner you get guys, the better they can get with the strength coach and getting acclimated to school, practicing against guys at that ability level. You work them out and figure out what they’re successful in and bridge the gap as quickly as possible.
“No matter how many times we talk with them, we say, fellas, when we get ahold of you in August, the competition and the workouts are going to be very demanding and it’s your best interest to really get after it. Some kids do a good job, and other kids think they’re doing a good job, not understanding what needs to be taking place.”
Brownell says he needs for the 6-11 Nnoko to provide post defense and rebounding to complement rising seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings.
“Landry will help us in the post,” Brownell said. “He’s got competition there – two big guys to battle with - and we need him to be able to defend and rebound. Help us like Bobo did.
“I don’t know if he can finish plays like Bobo, but we need him to rebound and hold defensive position. At times that was problematic for Bobo. We need guys to back up Devin and Milton, for depth.”
He’ll be looking for much of the same from the 6-8, 250-pound Smith.
“Josh is a bigger-body kid and he’ll do some things,” Brownell. “He’s going to have challenges. He’s a young guy coming in against older men who are bigger and stronger.
“I think he has a pretty good sense of how to play, and he might surprise some people, including us. He’s going to have some good competition.”
Brownell hopes that Roper and Filer can work their way into a rotation with Rod Hall at point guard, and he sees Blossomgame having the skills to contribute as a freshman, much like K.J. McDaniels.
“Like K.J., Jaron has got some physical tools to be able to contribute as a young player,” Brownell said. “He’s athletic and he’ll make a couple young plays but he’s consistent as well.”
Blossomgame played primarily as a forward during his record-setting high school career, but was recruited by Clemson for his potential as a big wing player.
“How consistent can he be at the wing?” Brownell said. “He hasn’t played pure wing a whole lot in his life. He’s done it periodically. One of the reasons we got him was because we went after him harder and believed he’d be able to do it before other people did.
“Will it happen freshman year? I don’t know. It’ll happen in his career and he’ll be a good player, but I don’t know how quickly it’ll come together for him as a freshman. He has the tools to be able to play as a freshman and hopefully he picks up the concepts quickly.”