Another Step Forward

When Oliver Purnell inked Milton Jennings, Devin Booker and Donte Hill to letters of intent it was yet another step forward for the Clemson men's basketball program.

Jennings is a consensus top 35 player coming out of high school and turned down offers from Florida, Connecticut, UCLA and Georgetown.

Simply put, the 6-9 forward will be the best basketball talent to ever step on the Clemson campus when he enrolls in the fall of 2009.

This is the kind of kid that is a difference maker. He has an outstanding outside game, is a much better rebounder than you first realize and has the long, athletic body that Coach Purnell loves to put out on the hardwood.

Devin Booker is, of course, the younger brother of Clemson force Trevor Booker. At 6-8 and 215 pounds he is a carbon copy of his older brother. The difference is he is better than Trevor coming out of high school.

You see, Booker already has a powerful inside game, but he pairs that with a solid outside game as well. He runs the floor like a deer and can be a real defensive threat averaging over three blocked shots per game last season.

During his junior season he averaged 22 points per game and grabbed 15 boards per game.

The final signee is going to be overlooked because of Jennings and Booker, but Donte Hill is Oliver Purnell's type of player.

Oliver said he was the best defender he saw during the recruiting process and if you know you know he loves players that can "D" it up.

When Purnell compares any player to Cliff Hammonds you had better take notice. Hill is 6-5 but has a wide wing span that will cause perimeter guys in the ACC some problems. He also has offensive skills as well averaging better than 20 points per game last year for Norfolk Collegiate School.

With his first NCAA Tournament berth in the books at Clemson and another top 25 recruiting class, to say the Oliver Purnell is the best coach on the Clemson campus might be a gross understatement.

Take nothing away from the jobs that Larry Penley and Jack Leggett do, but no one has things rolling like OP. Each and every year his teams take that next step. Two years ago it was rolling to a 17-0 start. Yes I know how things finished that season, but still that season pushed the Tiger basketball program back into the national headlines. Last season it was 28 wins and a berth in the ACC Championship game and a NCAA bid.

I realize when you enter a season in which you don't have the three pillars (James Mays, Cliff Hammonds and Sam Perry) that laid the foundation of the program, then maybe you should expect a downturn but I don't.

In fact, I fully believe Oliver Purnell knows what it takes to push the program forward yet again. He isn't the kind of guy that like status quo. No I believe the Tigers will be a better offensive club, a better free throw shooting team, and yes a better defensive team than they have been in the past. It has been this way ever since Oliver took over the program. I expect nothing less, but more importantly he expects nothing less.

This signing class is another reason for Tiger Nation to celebrate because once again Coach Purnell has taken another step forward. Now Tiger Nation it is time for you to step forward and put your butts in the stands this season not just when Duke comes to town, but when everyone comes to town.

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