Going 1-on-1 with Brownell

Late last month, CUTigers caught up with Clemson basketball coach Brad Brownell for an interview.

Excerpts from that sit-down were published in three other stories: 'They can't be a negative', Summer projects and No hard feelings.

The following questions and answers are also from that interview.

A lot of folks were surprised with Jordan Roper's play last year. Were you?
Brownell: He was a basket maker [in high school]. When I saw him play -- I followed him pretty good for a year and a half…he won a state championship, he's athletic as all get out. You'd never know because you don't know how guys are going to handle certain situations and how they're going to approach it. Is the moment going to be too big for them? In talking to Jordan, he's a pretty level-headed kid.

He's always been able to score. I knew that he wasn't a pure point guard in watching him play. He's not a pure point, so that's probably why some people were concerned, because of his size. He's just kind of a player. He's good with the ball coming off ball screens and shooting it in and stuff like that. He's not a guy who's a great facilitator and making everybody else better. His ball handling needs a little work. It's a little loose, at times. It's not super tidy. Most little guys have got it on a string. He didn't really play that way. A lot of guys that have it on a string and can do all that don't score as much as he does. I kind of weighed all that and felt like this is a real good kid and he's from a great program in the state. He can make baskets. He's going to be a player. He's pretty good. He's always been pretty level-headed. He's a talented little guy.

Can Adonis Filer bounce back in his second year at Clemson?
Do you think Adonis Filer hit a wall at some point last year?
Brownell: Adonis, he has physical tools that are really helpful -- strength, good speed, speed to get open, quick burst – he has some tools. Those are high-major tools that allow him to be successful. Some of his decision making and he's a little temperamental -- he's a guy that has to learn how to make everybody else better. Those are things that that he's got to work on -- consistency in his shooting.

He does a good job, defensively. He's strong, defensively. He likes defense, so he's an aggressive on ball defender. But, offensively, he's got some tools that he needs to work on in his game -- shooting, dribbling, passing a little bit. So when he played against guys that were physically as good, it was a little more of a challenge for him. He couldn't overpower some people. It's a common theme for young guards.

How's he doing this summer?
Brownell: He's doing fine. I think he's had a pretty good spring. The great thing is we've got a lot of guys to compete. One of the best things about practice this year, we're going to have a lot of guys going at each other. Some of them have different strengths, different skill sets that are better. But I think all of the guys have done a good job this spring.

You have a couple of big men back, but they didn't really play last season. How are they coming along?
Brownell: Landry [Nnoko] and Josh [Smith]. It's hard. I know everybody probably wonders what those guys can do. Really, in some ways, I probably should have played them a little more. I wonder that. It's hard to play Landry or Josh a few more minutes and take out Devin Booker. It's hard to do that. Devin Booker is a senior. Devin Booker is in phenomenal shape. He's physically strong. He's our best player. It would have been nice if we could have taken him out a few more times for four or five minutes a game and gotten those guys a little bit more time. It was just hard to do that with last year's team. We didn't play at a pace last year where Devin Booker got real tired. We played slower to help him, to use him. So it's almost like, just because we didn't play those two young guys, it wasn't because they weren't any good. It was just like we had a senior who's an all-conference player and our best player. He's played 34-35 minutes. That's just the way it's going to be.

"Josh is in better shape and moving a little better and I think shooting the ball a little further out [more] consistently. Starting to shoot it out from 15-16 feet and making it more consistently."

Hopefully, when you guys are seniors, hopefully one of you guys are our best players and you're playing 34 minutes and one of the freshmen coming in isn't playing as much. They both had good springs. Josh is in better shape and moving a little better and I think shooting the ball a little further out [more] consistently. Starting to shoot it out from 15-16 feet and making it more consistently. Landry is bigger and stronger, physically. Still kind of working to get him to become more polished around the rim, finishing and scoring, but certainly has improved. He's worked really hard and I think done some good things in the spring and summer with coach [Mike] Winiecki.

How about Devin Coleman's Achilles injury?
Brownell: I think he's pretty close to being 100 percent. He seems to be responding well to the Achilles, going through spring and summer workouts so far, and looks pretty good. But I feel like he'll be fine and ready to go for Italy, 100 percent. Everything should be good.

The freshmen that are on campus right now, how are they doing?
Brownell: We think Patrick [Rooks] and Austin [Ajukwa] have a chance to be good players. Patrick can shoot the ball with good range. Austin is kind of a versatile wing. He's a pretty good athlete, but he's also a pretty good ball handler, a pretty good passer, a pretty good shooter. He can kind of do a little bit of everything. As those guys get some experience, we think they'll be good players. We feel good about the guys we signed.

K.J. McDaniels will be asked to take on a leadership role.
Are you concerned about a lack of leadership for next season?
Brownell: That is a concern, no doubt about it. To be honest with you, we struggled with leadership last year. Devin and Milt [Jennings], I think they were both very good players, but I don't think either one of them are natural leaders. It wasn't easy playing with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. They didn't have juniors to kind of help. It was a challenge.

Rod Hall and K.J. [McDaniels], I think, are two guys that we're going to count on to try help be good leaders for this team. But, certainly, there is some concern with our youth. I think, physically, No. 1, I'd like to have our team another year older and bigger and stronger, more experienced at every position, have some more games under our belt. But I think we'll have a very tight-knit group. I think the guys will really battle. I think it'll be extremely competitive at practices for playing time.

I think our trip to Italy will really help with the initiating of the bonding and kind of the beginning of the developing of the identity and personality of our team. I think that will all be really good for us. But there is something to be said for experience. There is having been there before, being a little calmer, understanding what you're getting yourself into a little more frequently. We'll have some guys on the team that are playing that won't have played a whole lot, so there will be some challenges from that.

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