Clemson's most improved player?

CLEMSON - Heading into the summer, Tanner Smith knew there was going to be some room for him to step up and become a 3-point threat this year.

With the graduation of K.C. Rivers and the early departure of Terrence Oglesby, Smith refined his perimeter shot during the off-season with hopes of becoming one of the several guys who'll be leaned on to knock down 3-point shots.

"It's going to be a team effort more than it was last year when it comes to 3-point shots. K.C. and T.O. were two deadly 3-point shooters," Smith said. "We're going to need that in our game. It's going to be a team effort."

He made 15 of 42 shots from behind the arc (36 percent) and averaged 3.6 points per game last year. Smith hopes to see those numbers increase this year.

Along with increasing the number of shots he put up each day in the gym, Smith looked to improve several facets of his perimeter game: off the ball movement in order to find better looks, pulling up off the dribble and shooting while coming off of screens. The work has Smith feeling really confident about his improved perimeter shot.

But it wasn't just 3-point shooting that Smith identified as areas for improvement. With the help of former Clemson football player Brad Pope, he went through speed and agility training three times a week—something desperately needed for a "6-5 white guy" who "doesn't have the quickest feet."

Heading into his freshman season last year, Smith was unsure of how he'd earn playing time.

"I found that I was a real strong defensive player, which I never thought was going to be in college," he said. "I took pride in that and let the offense come to me. I got more and more minutes as the season went on."

Smith is taking the same approach this year, allowing the offense come to him and taking it to the opposition on defense.

"Defensively, I'm really going to force the action—get steals, rebounds, force teams to do things that they don't want to do," he said.

Coach Oliver Purnell believes improved play on the defensive end is a must. Smith said he and his teammates are still learning one another's defensive strengths.

"We're going to need a couple more weeks to fine tune things," Smith said. "I think we're definitely on our way to being a really strong defensive team." Top Stories