The $63.5 million renovation project at Littlejohn Coliseum is complete and Clemson men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell and women’s coach Audra Smith say the move is already paying dividends.
The project should help Clemson in recruiting, as well as in day-to-day operations. The Tigers have a new team room, film room, lounge area, locker room, practice facility and other amenities.
“You have a complete sell now. Certainly the arena speaks for itself,” Brownell said Wednesday during basketball media day at The Reserve at Lake Keowee.
The most immediate benefit for the men’s team should be that it won’t travel to Greenville for every game, as it did last year.
The Clemson men practiced at Jervey gym last season, but had to share the facility with the women, the volleyball team, the Rally Cats and others.
The Tigers played games at Bons Secours Wellness Center in downtown Greenville.
“I think it’ll help from a standpoint just of keeping our guys hopefully fresh and allowing our guys more time to get in the gym and put up extra shots and things like that,” Brownell said.
The biggest impact should be in recruiting where Smith has already seen an increase in the talent pool she can draw from to get players on campus.
“We’ve had numerous players, 20-25 in-state kids in the 2018-19 class, that are top kids in the country that have come to football games or to watch practices and toured the facility and been blown away by all the amenities that we have,” Smith said. “It’s been a major recruiting tool for us.”
While Brownell is excited about renovated Littlejohn, he also knows his team still must play well to have success.
Expectations are high as Clemson returns three starters from last season, including senior Jaron Blossomgame, who was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2015-16.
“The building doesn’t win you any games,” Brownell said. “A better office, nicer TVs and couches doesn’t win any games. Hopefully it brings guys together in an environment where they spend more time together and become closer and that bond wins games.”
Both programs will open the season on Nov. 11, with the women hosting Coastal Carolina at noon and the men hosting Georgia at 7 p.m.