Blossomgame 'junkyard dog mentality' bringing confidence

Duke's Rodney Hood (5) attempts a shot as Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame (5) and Clemson's Landry Nnoko (35) defend in the second half at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Duke's Rodney Hood (5) attempts a shot as Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame (5) and Clemson's Landry Nnoko (35) defend in the second half at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday.

— Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame is coming off the game Brad Brownell had been waiting roughly a season and a half for.

But not necessarily due to the career-high 14 points the wiry 6-7 redshirt freshman added to the mix in the 70-59 upset of No. 16 Duke.

Until recently, Blossomgame was Brownell's top signee as an ESPN top-100 prospect out of Alpharetta, Ga. Leading up to enrolling summer 2012, Blossomgame suffered a broken leg that bothered him even up to the spring of 2013, where he had another surgery.

Blossomgame ready to step up

Coming off 14 points, 14 rebounds v. ...

Through 14 games, Brownell hadn't seen what caught his eye recruiting him.

"One of the things we've pointed out to him is his good play started with a little bit more of the junkyard dog mentality we've been looking for from him," Brownell said. "What we recruited him to be both in high school and camp and AAU, where he was an aggressive rebounder, leader and he played on a team with all kinds of stars on his AAU team.

"He was a guy who probably played harder and longer than anybody on his team and that's one of the things that attracted us to him."

Blossomgame posted a career-high 14 rebounds, cracking double-digits in points and rebounds for the first time this season.

"Hustle plays, toughness plays – those give you energy and those are the plays Jaron needs to focus on," said Brownell. "The shooting and some of the other things will follow."

The Chattahoochee (Ga.) product hit two three-pointers Saturday, after knocking down three all season.

"Going forward I have a lot more confidence," Blossomgame said. "I made a couple early threes. Early on in the season, I was struggling from beyond the arc. Those threes were huge for my confidence.

"You'll see me shooting more from the three-point line and attacking the basket. I just have the offensive confidence that I needed to have to play in the ACC."

Juniors K.J. McDaniels (17.5 ppg) and Rod Hall (10.5) have led the Tigers' scoring, but elsewhere it's been up-and-down. Blossomgame believes he's ready to be another constant threat.

"The biggest thing with me is staying consistent," he said. "I don't want to have a off game (at Virginia Tech Wednesday). I'm expecting to have a pretty good game and I'm going for another double-double every game here on out. I've showed myself I can do it against pretty good competition so I might as well keep it going forward in the ACC."

Sophomore guard Jordan Roper says the key for Blossomgame is not forcing those shots.

"He didn't do anything outside of what he normally would do," said Roper. "He really stepped up in the situations we needed him and knocked down key shots. I can see him continuing to do that. We all expect to play well and want to play well and I know it's on Jaron's mind to play well.

"I don't feel like there's any pressure for Jaron to play well. We all have the same goals to win. Whether he has a double-double or he has six rebounds, as long as we get the win we're all satisfied."

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