For the past few years, everything and anything the Clemson Tigers did went through Trevor Booker. He scored, he rebounded, he probably sold tickets before game time. The Clemson big man was the focal point of the Tigers offense. If he didn’t get his touches, this team didn’t win. This is a fact.
You like facts? Me too. What another one?
Trevor Booker is gone, thus leaving a giant hole inside that not even his brother, sophomore Devin Booker will be able to fill next year. You can almost see why head coach Oliver Purnell ran off to DePaul now, don’t you?
So with a frontcourt emptier than a Nicolas Cage castle, this means the scoring load will fall directly onto the shoulders of Clemson’s backcourt trio of Demontez Stitt, Andre Young and Tanner Smith.
The threesome will roll into 2010-2011 with plenty of experience (all logged 24+ minutes last season) and the three are the top three scorers returning to LittleJohn Coliseum next year. Yet which one can step up and fill both the scoring hole and the leadership role left empty by Booker?
Of the three, Stitt is the only senior (the other two are juniors), who has played 22+ minutes per game since arriving at Clemson. He’s officially the team’s point guard, but often gives up the ball to the smaller Andre Young and plays small forward.
Heading into college as a freshman, Stitt was the 18th ranked PG in the country, but after two seasons, he wasn’t impressing the masses. Unless you’re into crappy shooting point guards who turn the ball over too much. If that’s the case, Stitt was your man.
Anyhow, despite being an athletically gifted player, with the quickness to get by most defenders, Stitt struggled to be a scorer. He never cracked double digits in his first two years, shooting around 40% from the floor.
You see, the problem was, Stitt was one-dimensional. Sure he could take it to the hole and finish with a high-flying dunk, but the guard couldn’t hit a three if his dog’s life depended on it.
Yet 2009-2010, Demontez finally broke out. His averaged just over 11 points per game, bringing his shooting percentage up to a decent 45%. Of course the improvement could be found mostly from behind the three-point line.
After failing to hit 28% of his shots from behind the line in each of his first two seasons, Stitt hit nearly 40% last year. The outside shooting made all the difference.
Suddenly, Clemson wasn’t a one-man show anymore. Teams had to pay attention to the outside. In fact, you can tell how important Stitt became when he wasn’t healthy. For five games Stitt was either playing hurt or miss the game entirely (two games total) and the Tigers went 1-4 during that time.
Heading into 2010-2011, it’s all about confidence for Stitt. With that kind of improvement in his outside shooting, there is no reason why he can’t shoot the long ball more, with confidence, in his final season at Clemson. So far, only 29% of his shots have been threes, but if he’s going to hit at or around 40%, look for him to launch more.
In a conference loaded with stud point guards, Stitt can get overlooked, particularly on what should be a rebuilding year for Clemson, but I suspect he’ll end up just outside the top-10 in scoring in the ACC, while averaging around four assists and five rebounds per game.
#12 – REGGIE JACKSON, GUARD – BOSTON COLLEGE
#13 – JEFF ALLEN, FORWARD – VIRGINIA TECH
#14 – JOHN HENSON, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA
#15 – XAVIER GIBSON, CENTER – FLORIDA STATE
#16 – C.J. LESLIE, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA STATE
#17 – GLEN RICE JR., GUARD – GEORGIA TECH
#18 – REGGIE BULLOCK, GUARD – NORTH CAROLINA
#19 – MASON PLUMLEE, FORWARD – DUKE
#20 – C.J. HARRIS, GUARD – WAKE FOREST
#21 – SETH CURRY, GUARD – DUKE
#22 – SEAN MOSLEY, GUARD – MARYLAND
#23 – JOE TRAPANI, FORWARD – BOSTON COLLEGE
#24 – MIKE SCOTT, FORWARD – VIRGINIA
#25 - IMAN SHUMPERT, GUARD – GEORGIA TECH