Reason for optimism

CLEMSON - rated Clemson basketball's 2009 recruiting class as the 11th best in the country. Coach Oliver Purnell believes it to be one of the best in school history.

"All of those young men bring different things to the table," he said.

Summerville-Pinewood Preparatory School's Milton Jennings, a five-star prospect and No. 8 rated power forward, could play at the small or power forward positions under Purnell.

"Offensively, (Jennings) can shoot it from the outside as well as score from the inside," he said. "He can block shots and that kind of thing with his length."

With Terrence Oglesby's departure, a scholarship spot opened during the summer, making room for Fayette County HS (GA) shooting guard Noel Johnson. Originally a signee at Southern California, he was released from his letter of intent after Tim Floyd's resignation

Johnson was a four-star prospect and the No. 13 rated player for his position.

"He's (going to play) a wing position," Purnell said. "He's offensively talented as well."

Union HS power forward Devin Booker reminds Purnell an awful lot of older brother Trevor when he was a freshman, "In terms of the way he plays the game with the power as an inside player."

Booker, also a four-star, was the No. 17 rated prospect for his position.

Norfolk Collegiate School (VA) small forward Donte Hill was a three-star prospect and No. 25 rated player for his position. Purnell said Hill "has tremendous defensive instincts and abilities…and is a very good athlete."

Each of the four will have a chance to play this year. With Trevor Booker the only guaranteed starter, the freshmen will also be competing for the four remaining starting spots.

"I love this freshman group coming in. If defense is going to be our thing, then Hill is going to have a chance. Obviously, a guy like Milton Jennings is highly rated coming in, as well as Noel Johnson. Devin Booker reminds you of Trevor as a freshman," Purnell said. "Those guys have an opportunity and have demonstrated that they're going to compete."

Freshmen who play well on defense and as one on the offense will have the chance to play early.

Purnell would be "stunned" if there weren't freshman playing in the Anaheim 76 Classic.

"If we don't have some freshman playing we're going to be awfully shallow. We won't be deep," he said. "We've always had freshman playing." Top Stories