Brownell's Balancing Act: addition of Djitte, Djambo improves Tigers' team dynamics

With better balance in terms of position, class, Clemson ready to tackle new ACC

Clemson's Landry Nnoko, left, works his way under the basket as Lander's Dermaine Smith defends during the second half of their NCAA college basketball exhibition game at Littlejohn Coliseum on Monday. Nov. 5, 2012 in Clemson, S.C. 

(Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson's Landry Nnoko, left, works his way under the basket as Lander's Dermaine Smith defends during the second half of their NCAA college basketball exhibition game at Littlejohn Coliseum on Monday. Nov. 5, 2012 in Clemson, S.C. (Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

Brad Brownell got his big man.

And now, with a roster better balanced in terms of both position and class, the Tigers will roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Youth will still be a prevailing storyline as Clemson prepares for the 2013-14 season in the expanded and strengthened ACC. The Tigers' will include - assuming the return of Damarcus Harrison - four freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors and no seniors.

In terms of having adequate personnel at the various positions, things looked to be precarious for the Tigers after rising junior Bernard Sullivan announced his decision to transfer in March.

His departure, along with the graduation of Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, left the Tigers with just two big men - rising sophomores Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith.

During a productive recruiting home stretch, Brownell and his staff added a pair of 6-10 post players - Ibrahim Djambo and Sidy Djitte - who have changed the make-up and dynamics of the entire team.

No longer will 6-7 redshirt freshman Jaron Blossomgame be forced to play almost exclusively at the four-spot, but rather can develop more naturally as an inside-outside player at both the three and four.

Perimeter-based lineups - a post and four guards or wings - now becomes an option rather than a necessity.

No longer will each game begin under the shadow of potential foul trouble.

Neither Djambo nor Djitte are ready-made ACC players, and the same can be said of Nnoko and Smith.

But Brownell and post coach Mike Winiecki now have big bodies, athleticism and talent to work with.

Clemson's bid for Djambo happened late, under the unusual circumstances of taking a junior college graduate.

The Tigers' recruitment of Djitte was a long-term affair.

After he committed on Saturday, Northwood Temple Academy coach Chris Lattimer told the Fayetteville Observer that Clemson's early interest and persistence paid off in Djitte's choice of the Tigers over Cincinnati and Memphis.

“He just couldn’t turn down that loyalty of Clemson, that family atmosphere at Clemson,” Lattimer said of Djitte, who moved from Dakar, Senegal to the United States late in 2011. “They’ve been recruiting him since the day he’s gotten over here, pretty much. Maybe he had a bad game on the AAU circuit, a bad game at Northwood, and they still kept on him and still loved him.

"Coach Brownell is a wonderful person, and he’s an excellent basketball coach. Sidy has only played basketball for about three years now, and he’s going into a situation where, not just with Coach Brownell, but with Coach (Mike) Winiecki and Coach (Earl) Grant, they’re great at developing talent.”

Clemson's 2013-14 Roster, Class By Class

Freshmen

Jaron Blossomgale, 6-7, Alpharetta, Ga.

Austin Ajukwa, 6-5, Columbia, S.C.

Patrick Rooks, 6-3, Charlotte, N.C.

Sidy Mohamed Djitte, 6-10, Dakar, Senegal

Sophomores

Adonis Filer, 6-2, Chicago, Ill.

Jordan Roper, 5-11, Irmo, S.C.

Devin Coleman, 6-2, Philadelphia, Pa.

Josh Smith, 6-8, Charlotte, N.C.

Landry Nnoko, 6-11, Yaounde, Cameroon

Juniors

K.J. McDaniels, 6-7, Birmingham, Ala.

Damarcus Harrison, 6-4, Greenwood, S.C.

Rod Hall, 6-2, Augusta, Ga.

Ibrahim Djambo, 6-10, Bamako, Mail

Carson Fields, 6-4, Pewee Valley, Ky.

Tigers By Position

Posts

Landy Nnoko

Ibrahim Djambo

Sidy Djitte

Josh Smith

Threes and Fours

Jaron Blossomgame

KJ McDaniels

Darmarcus Harrison

Shooting Guards

Austin Ajukwa

Patrick Rooks

Devil Coleman

Carson Fields

Point Guards

Rod Hall

Jordan Roper

Adonis Filer

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Comments » 2

SoCalTiger writes:

Coach Brownell has had this team for three full seasons. He has a losing record in the ACC and is just over the .500 mark in total wins. He took a team made up of OP's players, that tied for 4th in the ACC in his first season, and now has the team at the bottom of the ACC. No NCAA or NIT bids for the past two years. The Tigers had gotten a bid to either one or the other tournament every year since OP's second season. I am experiencing a Larry Shyatt deja vu with Brownell because Shyatt took a winning team from Rick Barnes that was also tied for 4th in the ACC and enjoyed multiple bids to the NCAA, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance, and drove it to the bottom of the conference and lingered there for 4 seasons. Will Brownell be given the same luxury of time as Shyatt? Will this team languish near the bottom of the ACC for a couple of more years before they make a change? If they do make a change, will they bite down hard and get an elite coach who can recruit elite players to come to Littlejohn? I am not a Brownell hater by any means. He had success in other conferences. I hope he can rebuild what has been torn down. But he seems to be in over his head and recruiting is at the core of his recent lack of success.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

Sadly,So Cal, I share your thoughts. Your perspective of the basketball program is much the same as mine. Let's just hope!

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