Ready for the next step

One of two class of 2013 basketball signees by Brad Brownell, Austin Ajukwa looks forward to arriving to Clemson.

The two-star shooting guard from Cardinal Newman [Columbia] closed out his high school career with a SCISA 3A state championship.

Ajukwa, who scored 23 points in the title game, averaged 22 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks during his senior season.

Before committing to Clemson, Ajukwa landed offers from South Carolina, Boston College and Virginia Tech.

He recently spoke with CUTigers about his future in Tigertown.

How was your senior season?
Ajukwa: We had sort of a shaky season, because injuries plagued us. I was out five games in a row. Then, I wasn't fully back. The last three games in the playoffs, the whole team, we just refused to lose, because I've been chasing this for four years. We all, collectively, came together and played the best defense of the season, and we got a state championship.

What was your injury?
Ajukwa: I sprained my ankle really bad and I had to sit five games during the middle of the season. It was during December.

What have you been doing to get ready for Clemson?
Ajukwa: I'm in the gym, almost 24/7. I'm lifting every day, doing everything that the coaches want me to work on. I'm working on everything I'm bad at and everything I'm good at.

What do they want you to hone in on?
Ajukwa: They want some more scoring, making sure that I can score from anywhere at the shooting guard position, working on my handle, because they want me to play shooting guard. I'm going to be bringing the ball up court a lot, I guess. So I'm working on my ball handling and staying low with my ball handling, since I'm 6-6. And I'm in the weight room, eating and trying to gain a whole bunch of weight. Just my strength and conditioning. And my catch and shooting.

So they see you as a 2. Any time at the 3 maybe?
Ajukwa: I think they want me to be more of a 2 next year.

What was it like seeing Clemson competing in so many games but seeing them lose by such close margins?
Ajukwa: I went up there and watched them play Miami and N.C. State. It was great to see them fight, because those teams were tough teams. To see them come down to the wire like that, that shows some upside. We've just got work on finishing next year, finishing those games off, making those free-throws when they count. And just finishing out the game. Those were really well played games we played in. We played really good defense. We've just got finish the game on the offensive end. It was really exciting to see the level of competitiveness.

What can Clemson fans expect to see from you next year? What will you bring to the table?
Ajukwa: I'm not really sure what they expect to see, to be honest. I just want to come in and contribute in every way that I can. Any way the coaches want me to contribute, whether that's to lead, even though I'll be a freshman, be a vocal point on the team.

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