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Basketball Impact Players: Week 14

Kim Montuoro/ Photo Editor

Senior Avry Holmes (12) transferred to Clemson three years ago and has become an offensive weapon for the Tigers. He is shooting over 50 percent on the season.

The Clemson Tigers men’s basketball team has been playing well recently, collecting key victories over the Pitt Panthers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. In fact, both wins have served as catalysts in the Tigers’ hunt for a March Madness slot. With a deep roster, Clemson has been using its wide variety of lineups to revitalize its offense as of late, and three players in particular have been leading the way.

Avry Holmes transferred to Clemson three years ago from the University of San Francisco, and had had quite the positive impact that on the Tigers since then. Now a senior, combo guard Holmes has really come into his own, serving as a spark plug for Clemson since the beginning of the season. 

Holmes, a natural point guard with the shooting ability of a two guard, has fully embraced his roles as a leader and a team captain this year, and his locker room presence has become invaluable. A relentless scorer, Holmes has upped his game from beyond the arc this season, as he is currently shooting over 50 percent from three-point territory in conference play. 

Knocking down four of four three-pointers against Georgia Tech last week, Holmes showcased why he is such a dangerous shooter and a versatile offensive threat. Speaking on his hotshot guard’s performance in the matchup with the Yellow Jackets, Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell told reporters, “He got some good looks and knocked them down; he shot the ball really well. I thought he played with pretty good poise, didn’t take many bad shots. Today, Avry was really good.”

Fifth-year senior forward Jaron Blossomgame has a bright future ahead of him in the NBA, but he returned to Clemson this season, in part to take care of some unfished business. The Tigers have not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2011, and Blossomgame, a reigning All-ACC member, has made it clear through his play that a Big Dance selection is a major goal of his. 

A Renaissance man on the basketball court, Blossomgame is the Tigers’ most skilled player on both sides of the ball. Although foul trouble prevented his stat line from standing out in Clemson’s home clash with Georgia Tech last week, he used his trademark leadership abilities and playmaking skills to help the Tigers win, throwing down an electrifying reverse dunk in the process. 

Averaging 18 points per game at present, Blossomgame is consistently stringing together great performance after great performance and looking the part of one of the ACC’s best all-around players.

Elijah Thomas has continued his upward swing in the frontcourt recently, with the power forward collecting a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds versus the Yellow Jackets. A transfer from Texas A&M, Thomas was only just eligible to suit up for the Tigers in mid-December, but he has already solidified himself as their most important big man. 

A young talent, Thomas still has room for improvement, particularly with regard to limiting his fouling, but he is well on his way to becoming a double-double machine.

The Tigers seem to be setting up to perform well down the home stretch of the regular season, which will be vital for their postseason implications. If Clemson is to get selected to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years, all three of the previously mentioned impact players must continue to consistently perform at a high level. 

With a nice mixture of veterans and youngsters, Clemson’s roster is built for a late-season run. This wacky college basketball season seems to be completely up for grabs. And, with Blossomgame, Holmes and Thomas playing well, the Tigers could very well take advantage of that unpredictability by shocking the hoops world come Tournament time.

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