Year of opportunity for Brownell, Tigers

CLEMSON - There's a buzzword surrounding the Clemson basketball program as it enters year two under the direction of Brad Brownell.


Senior captains Andre Young and Tanner Smith can step forward as the loudest voices in the locker room.

Devin Booker and Milton Jennings are faced with a chance to become "big-time players."

Three or four freshmen, if not all five, will play significant minutes. Included in that mix is four-star power forward Bernard Sullivan, a player many think could be the next star in the making in Tigertown.

And this new team will do it all while trying to get back to the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fifth season in a row.

"It's a new year. I want their excitement and enthusiasm to be high," Brownell said in a recent interview with "If I were to give it a word, opportunity is the word.

"We really lost a lot more than I think people realize, I think, with Demontez [Stitt] and Jerai [Grant]."


Together, Stitt and Grant averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds a game last season. The duo provided a veteran inside/outside combination that helped Brownell guide the Tigers to a 22-12 record a year ago.

Four-star forward Bernard Sullivan will likely be stepping into major minutes this coming season. (
Their production, leadership and experience will be missed, with a heavy emphasis on experience. In addition, don't forget both players were instrumental in helping lead the Tigers back into the upper echelon of the Atlantic Coast Conference the last couple of years.

Brownell admits it's a daunting task having to replace so much production.

"Half of my team, five of my 11 guys, it's going to be their first time going through all of this," Brownell said. "That is scary, even though we've got six guys that have kind of been through it."

On paper, it may not look so bad, but two of those six veterans relatively inexperienced.

Catalin Baciu has played just a combined 163 minutes over 44 games during his first three years at Clemson. Bryan Narcisse has 616 minutes in 71 games over that same period of time, and he logged 428 of those minutes last season.

"We're not quite as experienced as a lot of people think...we're young in the basketball experience category," Brownell said. "That makes you a little nervous as a head coach."

It won't be any easier moving forward, with more turnover to come.

"It will be a while before -- these freshmen are seniors and this next group are juniors -- and we feel like we have a whole group back," he said. "We've got some work to do."

Brownell, cracking a smile, said he's ready for the opportunity.

"It's a real good challenge." Top Stories