Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

McDaniels’ early departure a tough blow for Clemson

April 24, 2014 Columns No Comments

If you’re a Clemson fan, the big news on Tuesday hurts. It’s news you didn’t want to hear.

You can hardly blame K.J. McDaniels for his decision to enter the NBA Draft, as his stock might never be higher. The junior forward certainly looked poised to have a big senior year, but in reality it would be tough to sustain the level of play he showed in the NIT as Clemson reached the quarterfinals before bowing out to SMU. He’s now projected to go somewhere in the back half of the first round, or even sneak into the lottery, and it’s not something that could have been foreseen a few months ago.

McDaniels had two good years leading up to this year, and hopes were higher for the Tigers this season with him leading a core of holdovers. No one projected him as a first team All-ACC candidate, though, and not just because of team success. He was good, but had never scored 20 or more points in a game before this season. Early on, he showed he can impact games in a lot of ways, and he kept it up as the Tigers were quietly a contender for an NCAA Tournament bid. He filled the stat sheet to the tune of 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and most impressively, 2.8 blocks per game.

He led the ACC in blocked shots for the second year in a row en route to ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

It was in the NIT that his stock really began to rise. A 30-point, 14-rebound outing against Georgia State that also included five blocked shots started it off, and he was 9-11 from the field that night. He had 12 points on 5-7 shooting and four more blocked shots against Illinois. In all, he averaged 17.3 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots in four NIT games, making over 57 percent of his shots. He even had ten assists against seven turnovers in that stretch.

What will probably happen now that he has declared is that McDaniels will be seen as a player who flew under everyone’s radar, and now people will find out how good he can be. Clemson was hardly in the limelight this year, so not many knew about him before his big run in the NIT. As he works out and shows how athletic he is and the upside he has, he’ll move up draft boards, perhaps much higher than anyone would have imagined a month ago.

This happens as Clemson has started to build some real momentum for the first time in Brad Brownell’s tenure. That momentum mirrored McDaniels’ growth, as he came from the same kind of humble beginnings the program was in when he arrived on campus. Although he showed promise, he barely averaged 10 minutes per game as a freshman on a veteran team. The Tigers, meanwhile, had a shot at some postseason play but didn’t get there.

This season, Clemson had their best players back for the first time since Brownell took over, and there was some promise. The Tigers had a good non-conference record, largely because they scheduled softly by design, as Brownell felt they needed to win games and build confidence. They did that, and then started winning ACC games. It wasn’t enough to reach the NCAA Tournament, but they got into the NIT and made a nice run, enough to look like a team that can take the next step into the NCAA Tournament next year.

Clemson should still be good next year. The Tigers will return four starters, including three-year starting point guard Rod Hall and classmate Damarcus Harrison, who could make a jump in the scoring column next season. Rising junior big man Landry Nnoko developed nicely, classmate Jordan Roper has been a nice complementary player and Jaron Blossomgame also got better as the season went along and will surely have an expanded role next season.

“I still feel very good about where our program’s headed, what we’re doing, what we have returning,” said Brownell. “We’re still very excited about our future.”

Brownell can coach, and his team should still be good defensively. McDaniels’ offensive production might be tougher to replace than his defense, strange as that might seem, as no other Tiger averaged in double figures although Hall was close at 9.7 points per game. It’s now even more incumbent upon him to make everyone better next season.

Brownell has also taken the positive angle with all of this, and it’s understandable. That they developed McDaniels into a likely first round NBA Draft pick is a selling point for recruits. It will help them get players down the line. But that won’t help much next year with him gone. Give the staff credit for anticipating this with how they have recruited the past couple of years, as they weren’t blind-sided by this.

Clemson still projects to be good next season based on personnel. But McDaniels is the guy that could lead an otherwise good group to the NCAA Tournament. Without him, the challenge of getting there will now be a lot tougher.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

College Basketball Tonight – March 26, 2017

March 27, 2017 by

In the latest edition of College Basketball Tonight, we break down the regional finals as the Final Four is all set. A pair of special guests join us to help break the games down.

College Basketball Tonight – March 19, 2017

March 20, 2017 by

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and after two rounds that could not be more different. Ted Sarandis leads the way as we break down the first two rounds, as well as coaching news that emerged over the weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 18, 2017

March 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look back on the first round games in the NCAA Tournament, starting with a couple of terrific performances on Friday night.

College Basketball Tonight – March 12, 2017

March 13, 2017 by

We bring you College Basketball Tonight, a comprehensive look at the 2017 NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran broadcaster Ted Sarandis. The NCAA Tournament field is set, and we break down each region as well as some big picture subjects.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2017, Part 2

March 10, 2017 by

In Part 2 of our podcast, we talk about the ACC Tournament and others that have found new homes in light of comments made by a prominent coach that got quite a reaction, then we talk about the NCAA Tournament bubble as that subject begins to dominate conversation for a couple of more days.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.