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What to expect from Clemson men’s basketball

Kim Montuoro, Contributor

Head coach Brad Brownell looks to lead his team to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances this season.

With its first regular-season game against Presbyterian College set for Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., Clemson’s men’s basketball will look much different than last season. The roster transformation may have fans questioning what to expect, so look out for the following this year.
Hunter Tyson will lead the team in scoring.
Now that former Clemson forward Aamir Simms left college basketball behind to pursue a professional career, head coach Brad Brownell and the Tigers will try to lean on Tyson to be the leader of the team. 
“Hunter Tyson is doing a good job. I think he’s our most vocal guy. I think he’s the guy that guys look to and listen to the most,” said Brownell after the Nov. 1 exhibition game.
“I think he’s got a strong belief and understanding of what we’re trying to do and confidence in how we do things, and so guys naturally look to him.”
Tyson, who averaged 7.5 points on 46.5% shooting last season, has improved in every shooting category throughout his three previous years on the team. Now, he will need to take another leap forward to give the Tigers the best shot at making the NCAA tournament for a consecutive season for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.
With his three years of experience at Clemson, along with his 6’8” frame, Tyson has the ability to do just that. Tyson can drill shots beyond the arc, as  well as finish at the rim, so look for him to contribute offensively at every level.  
P.J. Hall will be the Tigers’ most improved player.
Last season, the freshman center had flashes of brilliance but only averaged 3.5 points per game and failed to make a consistent impact on the court. However, in the Nov. 1 exhibition game against Georgia Southwestern, Hall scored 21 points in the first half and displayed his athleticism and scoring potential. 
From dunks, to mid-range jump shots to hook shots, Hall looked like the top-75 recruit that Brownell brought to Clemson in 2020. 
“Coming in last year, I expected myself to be at a certain level and I wasn’t,” Hall said after the exhibition game.
“Me and Justin McClelland, our strength coach [worked] to put on weight, cut down body fat percentage, got in better shape, worked on the shot, worked on finishing over both shoulders.”
Based on the 19 minutes Hall played in the exhibition game, the effort he put in over the offseason appears to have paid off. 
Although his main skills are not shooting long-distance shots, Hall’s ability to stretch the floor will open up opportunities for his teammates to score — an attribute that will not show up in the box score, but one that can make an enormous impact on Clemson’s offense. 
Clemson will experiment with the starting lineup.
In the game against Georgia Southwestern, Brownell opened the game with a starting lineup consisting of a backcourt of Nick Honor and Al-Amir Dawes, with David Collins playing forward and Tyson and Hall filling the last two spots. 
Tyson and Hall are the two likely players locked in the starting lineup, but outside of them, Clemson’s starting five will be a work-in-progress throughout the season.
Collins, who transferred this offseason from South Florida, is expected to play a key role for the Tigers but may need some time to adjust. 
Meanwhile, Honor was the third-leading scorer last season with 8.1 points per game, and he played the most minutes in the exhibition game. However, his height being 5’10” may call for him to come off the bench at times, as he did last season, against bigger teams.
“I think we’re still trying to figure it all out, we really are,” Brownell said. 
“We’ll play a lot of guys. We’ll play eight, nine, ten guys, maybe 11.”
Ian Schieffelin is the freshman to watch.
Schieffelin was another player who contributed heavily to the Tigers’ exhibition victory. In just under 12 minutes of play, he scored 13 points on 6-7 shooting. Although just a freshman, Brownell has already been impressed with Schieffelin’s work ethic and talent.
“He’s lost twenty pounds. He’s worked to get his shot much better,” said Brownell.
“He’s got a good natural feel for the game. He can handle the ball; he can pass the ball a little bit. He plays the game with a nice confidence for a young player that you don’t see most young players have.” 
The 6’7” forward out of Loganville, Georgia figures to fill in for Hall when the center is not on the court. Although his height is not one of a typical center, he has the toughness and natural feel for the game, as Brownell mentioned, to be a pivotal player for the Tigers this season.

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