CLEMSON-- Clemson head coach Brad Brownell was dealt another blow to his hopes of having a successful 2020-21 season when two of players off the 2019-20 squad decided to leave the Tiger program.
It was only two weeks ago that forward Javen White decided to leave the program after Brownell could not promise him a starting spot next season or more minutes.
“It was a little bit of a surprise, don’t know about a total shock," Brownell said. "Hate to see him go because I think he is a great kid and I think he had a chance to help our team next year.
"I think he wanted to play more. I’m not going to promise him that he was starting or any of those kinds of things. That wouldn’t be fair to other guys on our team."
Then Tuesday, the Tigers announced that forward Malik Williams would be leaving the program.
"It’s hard to keep 11-12 guys happy," Brownell said. "There aren’t many kids that want to come and sit and are happy sitting. Naturally, they are going to leave. Some of this is you have to acquire players, and the players have to fight it out themselves too now. You can’t be promised everything. You gotta go earn it.”
The goal for the Tigers coaching staff is now to figure out who can help them with the four scholarships they now have available.
The Tigers will once again make a play to gain some experience and veteran leadership on the transfer market--which is not ideal, but what Brownell feels is necessary to compete next year.
“We’ve got spaces. We still got at least three scholarships right now," Brownell said. "We knew we were going to have some and that’s fine. We’ve planned on signing some older players and are recruiting some fifth-year guys.
"We’re trying to add a couple of older pieces to our team so that we can be older and have a little more experience and bridge the gap a little bit. The fifth-year option has changed the way guys recruit. It gives you a chance to remake your roster.”
However, even with the recent attrition, which has seen 14 of the 38 recruits signed by Brownell leave the program, he still feels good about where his program stands heading into the summer.
“I know it looks like we’re losing some great players and the other guys are all unproven so now it’s like, ‘oh wow, the state of the program is -’ I think there’s some negativity in that question, to be honest with you," Brownell said. "I think the program is fine. I think it’s hard to be really good every year. If you really want to know the truth, if you look at the history of basketball at a lot of schools, there are very few programs that are really good every season and built to win 20 games every season. It’s hard
"I think our program is in a really good situation. Our guys graduate, we do things the right way, we’re coming off two straight 20-win seasons. I guess a part of that question frustrates me because you aren’t looking holistically about everything that’s going on."
In his end-of-the-year press conference, Brownell reiterated that losing in the second-round of the NIT was not the way he had envisioned the season ending, he still was proud of what his Tigers accomplished.
“It wasn’t the season we wanted," Brownell said. "We were hoping to make the big tournament. But I’m still proud of what our guys were able to accomplish in terms of 20-win season, nine wins in the ACC.
"I thought we had some adversity throughout the year. Certainly Shelton Mitchell - I feel bad I didn’t realize how bad his knee was...The close losses were very challenging for our team… There’s always going to be a lot of close games or games that come down to the last minute, and there are plays that are made. Sometimes you win a game by five or six when really it was closer than that."