Brownell says sophomore big man Landry Nnoko is better than he thinks

'You go from playing a few minutes last year to almost 30 a game this year and it’s a big jump, maybe too big of a jump'

Clemson center Landry Nnoko shoots against South Carolina State during the second half in Clemson.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson center Landry Nnoko shoots against South Carolina State during the second half in Clemson.

Brad Brownell would love to see Landry Nnoko develop a mean streak.

But he knows he's fighting against human nature.

"Landry is a nice guy - sometimes too nice," said Brownell after the sophomore big man's mid-game surge helped carry Clemson to a 65-49 victory over S.C. State Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum. "He's not the nastiest guy in the world, and he needs to get tough."

Even more important, Brownell said, is that the 6-10, 250-pound Nnoko realize and embrace the fact that he's better player than he thinks he is.

"He doesn’t realize yet that he can be a really good player," said Brownell. "He needs to know that he is really good."

Nnoko, who came to Florida's Montverde Academy from Cameroon, has shown glimpses of his potential on several occasions during the early season, including Tuesday when he scored a career-high 13 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.

He scored 10 points and had 15 rebounds in Clemson's victory over Temple in the Charleston Classic, and had nine rebounds in the Tigers' weekend victory over Coastal Carolina.

For the season, he's started every game and is averaging 21.1 minutes per contest.

"In high school he wasn’t really a dominant player, but was more of a role player," Brownell said. "His freshman year here he didn’t get to play a lot. You go from playing a few minutes last year to almost 30 a game this year and it’s a big jump, maybe too big of a jump."

For the Tigers, Nnoko is playing in the post rotation with fellow sophomore Josh Smith and newcomers Ibrahim Djambo and Sidy Djitte.

All four big men are on a steep learning curve.

"There are going to be games like this where he has confidence, and there are going to be games where he is soft and not confident," Brownell said. "I had to get after him in the second half and tell him to go get some rebounds and to be tough and he finally did.

"After that he got in little rhythm and started to play well.”

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