Milton Jennings aims high

When he travels to basketball camps or finds himself locked in conversations with some of the nation's other elite high school players, Clemson signee Milton Jennings always hears this one question.

"Why are you going to Clemson?"

Jennings, who just led Pinewood Prep (Summerville) to a fourth consecutive SCISA State Championship, just looks right in their face and says, "You just have to know OP (Oliver Purnell) and what he is doing and you will believe in him.

"At the all-star camps, I always here why aren't you going to UConn, why aren't you going to UCLA, why aren't you going to Florida or what not? Obviously those programs have had their chances and won all these games and stuff and that's why they want to go there.

"They don't know about Clemson because it is way out of their reach, but I'm here to let them know about Clemson."

Jennings will let most of America know about Clemson when he plays in the McDonald's All-America game in Miami on April 1. The 6-foot-9, 210-pound wing player is the first Clemson signee to play in the nation's most prestigious all-star game since 1991, when Sharone Wright made the squad.

In all, he is just the fourth Clemson signee to be selected in the game which started in 1979.

"It has definitely been a big dream of mine," said Jennings, who was in attendance during Clemson's 75-57 victory over Virginia Tuesday night and most of Clemson's home ACC games this year. "It is everyone's goal when you first start playing basketball; you see all of those guys. I remember watching Michael Beasley and stuff. You see all of those guys and then you see all the other guys before them; you definitely want to be there and be on TV with them. It is just a great honor that I get the chance to do that with them."

Jennings ended his high school career averaging 21 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game for the 29-5 Panthers, who beat Porter-Gaud 71-58 in last Sunday's State Finals.
Jennings ended his high school career averaging 21 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game for the 29-5 Panthers, who beat Porter-Gaud 71-58 in last Sunday's State Finals. Now he says he is ready to help Clemson continue its rise in the ACC under Purnell.

"It is a good feeling that I know I'm coming into a program with great players now and ones from the past," he said. "I just want to continue the history there and hopefully we can get some more people and some more McDonald's All-Americans and get this program going even higher than it is right now."

For those keeping score, Jennings chose Clemson over the likes of basketball powerhouses UCLA, Georgetown and Florida.

"Coach Purnell is just a great guy and who would not want to play for him," Jennings asked. "I guess I chose Clemson because it was OP. It wasn't location or anything like that really.

"When I met him and I saw how great of a guy he was, you would be a fool if you cannot recognize the fact he has taken a program higher each year. I figured this would be the best time to come here and show everybody what I can do."

What Jennings can do is pretty much anything. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 8 power forward prospect in the nation and also a five-star prospect.

However, he feels he still has work to do before he gets ready for the night in and night out battles in the ACC. The Summerville resident says he would like to get bigger and is shooting to reach at least 225-230 pounds by his junior year.

"If I can get heavier than that and still move, I will do it," he said.

Jennings also said he is also working on his ball-handling skills.

"I've improved on my ball handling skills a little bit," he said. "Earlier in the year I was taking people off the dribble and to the hole, but as the season progressed, I started getting back inside a little more.

"I definitely have to work on my left hand a lot if I want to play the three or four here at Clemson. I don't want to get ripped every time I try to dribble the ball or otherwise I would be in a hole the entire time. That is one of the big things I need to work on and strength definitely. I have to get bigger."

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