Tigers Take Advantage of Court Time

CHARLOTTE – The Clemson basketball team took to the hardwood at Bobcats Arena for the very first time Wednesday night and the hour-long session was anything but a layup.

The No. 3-seeded Tigers took full advantage of their allotted time on the court to get fully acclimated to the surroundings and sights as they treated this like a real practice and didn't use it as a walkthrough like most of the other teams.

It was a hard practice full of trapping defenses during a full scrimmage. This was anything but a mere formality.

"We just wanted to come up and get used to the floor," Purnell said. "It's our only opportunity to do that. … I thought the guys got after it pretty good and I thought that it was good for us."

One player that surely didn't take it easy was senior guard Cliff Hammonds, despite having a broken right wrist.

At one point, he made a full-court pass during the practice that even caused ESPN's Jeannine Edwards take notice and say, "Wow!"

Cliff Hammonds shoots during practice for the ACC basketball tournament at Bobcats Arena in Charlotte. (Gary Broom/AP)
"He doesn't know any way to go but hard," Purnell said. "He scares you sometimes, but he's going to be sharper for going harder. We just can't worry about it. We've had so many injuries this year that you'd lose sleep worrying about what's next and you just can't do that."

A couple hundred spectators, nearly all Clemson fans, watched the team practice in the arena. All practices were open to the public free of charge.

HOMECOMING: Tigers junior guard/forward K.C. Rivers was raised in Charlotte and all his family still lives in the Queen City. He said it's nice to be home and that it hasn't been too hectic.

"Some of my family was here early and everybody wants to know how I'm doing," he said. "I've talked to pretty much everybody I know. If you handle it properly it's OK. I haven't experienced any chaos as far as being here with my friends and in my hometown.

"I try to take as much time as I can and see everybody, but it's all about balancing your time out and just making the right decisions."

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: One might think that freshman Jerai Grant might have a better handle and understanding of what's about to take place with the ACC Tournament considering who is dad and uncle are.

But truth be told, he doesn't. He admitted that he never watched much of the ACC Tournament growing up in Washington, D.C.

However, his father, Harvey Grant, did give him some advice about weekend.

"My dad just said to expect big things," Jerai Grant said. "And that's what I think is pretty much going to happen."

AWARDS: Hammonds will be the first-ever recipient of the Skip Prosser Award, which will be given annually to the conference's best student-athlete in basketball.

Hammonds made third-team All-ACC this year and was also a member of the All-ACC Academic Team. He is on the Dean's List and is a double major, getting degrees in psychology and architecture.

Florida State's Matt Zitani is the recipient of the annual Bob Bradley Spirit & Courage Award, which is given annually to a male for female basketball player, coach or team administrator who overcomes significant adversity.

In October of 2003, Zitani underwent surgery to have a tumor removed from his brain. He was told his athletic career was over. However, he later joined FSU as a walk-on before eventually being awarded a scholarship. He has played in 23 of 31 games this season and was also named to the All-ACC Academic Team.

The Marvin "Skeeter" Francis Award was given to Frank Weedon, who represented N.C. State. The award is given to those that have notable achievement and service to the media in coverage of ACC sports.

Weedon served as SID at N.C. State from 1960 to 1972, before moving into administration within the athletic department. He continued to have a positive impact with the athletic department and media long after his retirement.

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