Hot-shooting Stitt key against UNC

CLEMSON - There's little doubt who's the MVP of the Clemson basketball team.

The MVP who's not named Trevor Booker, according to coach Oliver Purnell--that's Demontez Stitt.

"He's a junior. You can't do without that guy," Purnell said of Stitt, who's averaging 10.9 points and 3.8 assists through 16 games this season.

A four-star point guard out of Butler High School, which is just out side of Charlotte in nearby Matthews, N.C., Stitt said he was born rooting for North Carolina basketball, but he didn't get so much as an invite to see what life in Chapel Hill was like.

On Wednesday night, he gets another chance to prove Roy Williams wrong when North Carolina takes on Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum before a national television audience.

All these years later, there are no feelings of ill-will nor is there any inkling for Stitt to wonder, what if? Instead, the Tar Heels' overlooking him is used as motivation.

"As soon as I committed here, this is where it's at," he said. "I see Carolina and them not recruiting me like some people thought they should, or I thought they should when I was in high school.

"I look at that as a challenge to sort of prove to them that they should have recruited me."

A mainstay at point guard since he arrived to Clemson in 2007, Purnell's seen Stitt improve as a leader as he's gotten more familiar with the offense.

"He's become more assertive. He's becoming one of the better guards in the ACC," Purnell said. "This is his kind of game because it's up and down the floor."

Clemson's full-court pressure, high-tempo style will be matched by the run-and-gun tempo that Williams' Tar Heels use to try and out run their opponents.

"You get him out in the open court a lot and he's got a really good chance of hurting you, because he can get to the basket," Purnell said. "Now, he's added the consistent three-ball to his arsenal."

No player on the Clemson roster has beaten North Carolina, though some have come awfully close. The Tigers are currently mired in a 10-game losing streak to the Tar Heels, with a couple of close overtime, and even double-overtime losses.

"Them coming in here, we've got a little chip on our shoulder from all the losses we've had to them in a row," Stitt said. "It's due time."

Instead of matching up with current Denver Nugget Ty Lawson, Stitt's going to be matched up with Larry Drew II and Dexter Strickland. Running with Lawson is a little different than the sophomore and freshman he'll be guarding and guarded by on Wednesday.

Whoever the counterpart is at point guard, it doesn't matter to Stitt. He takes the same approach each time he takes to the court.

"I don't feel the other team's point guard can stop me and I don't feel the other team's point guard can score on me," Stitt said. "That's the attitude I have."

That attitude has helped him become one of the Tigers' most productive players this season. Stitt's the second leading scorer and the second-best 3-point shooter, having gone 17-of-43 (40 percent).

He's also first in assists and third in steals.

"I like the way his whole year has gone. But it seems of late, he's really ratcheting it up in league play," Purnell said. Top Stories