Preseason Clemson Basketball Report

CLEMSON – With the season opener a month away, the Clemson men's basketball team is in full swing with grueling practices everyday. So much so, that the Tigers enter Friday night's Orange-White game nursing some injuries.

Point guard Vern Hamilton is questionable for Friday's scrimmage due to sustaining a concussion after he hit his head on the court in practice Wednesday.

Forward Steve Allen also has a bruised hip and point guard Troy Mathis is still bothered with a sore knee after undergoing minor surgery in the off-season.

"I don't think it's unusual that we're a little beat up after the first tough week of practice, because we've been going everyday and won't take a day off until after the Orange-White game," Tigers head coach Oliver Purnell said.

"Right now, if we were to play today, we'd only have nine healthy bodies. I do think that our injuries are minor enough that most everybody will be ready to go (Friday) night, maybe with the exception of Vern."

On the bright side, Purnell has been pleased for the most part with how this crop of players has handled practice.

"We've got some carryover, which you always like to see with an experienced team, because we are doing some similar things to last year and the older guys are helping the younger guys," he said. "We've got a ways to go. I've seen some bright spots and some things I did like."

Purnell added that while the practices have been good, he'd like to see more of a consistent level of "tough competing." It comes and goes right now.

As far as the freshmen are concerned, Purnell is happy with the progress of all of them.

"They're probably about where I expected," he said. "I think K.C. (Rivers) is a little ahead of the other two. Julius Powell has shown some real flashes and knows how to play the game. He just needs to toughen up a bit.

"Raymond (Sykes) is very, very raw, but has shown some flashes of athleticism with uncanny shot blocking ability and the ability to run for a 6-foot-10 guy. But he's still got a ways to go. … That's what we're going to rely on him to do. Obviously we want him to rebound, but we want him to be a post presence in there, so if he can change some shots or block some shots, that would be helpful."

The stars of practice thus far have been guard Cliff Hammonds, center Akin Akingbala, forward James Mays and Rivers.

"Mays is much improved and of the freshmen, K.C. looks the most game-ready right now," Purnell said. Top Stories