He may or may not have Clemson star forward Jaron Blossomgame on his team next season.
But either way, Tigers coach Brad Brownell knows he needs to make the NCAA Tournament next season.
Blossomgame declared for the NBA draft on Wednesday, but could return because he did not hire an agent.
His return would bolster Clemson’s chances end a five-year drought from the NCAA Tournament. His departure would revert Brownell to a precarious position.
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Brownell said Clemson’s goal will remain the same – reaching the NCAA Tournament. He denounced any detractors who insist that, after a third consecutive winning season, the Tigers are not aimed in that direction.
“To sound like we’re not in a good place or that we’re not doing some good things, certainly I would dispute all that. To think there’s not positive momentum in our program, I dispute all those kinds of things that some people would say,” said Brownell, who cited Clemson’s 10-8 ACC record and the ongoing renovation to Littlejohn Coliseum.
Brownell said, since the conclusion of the season, he has visited with director of athletics Dan Radakovich, and they agree on the status of the program – dissatisfied with the result but encouraged by the future. Brownell asserted that any speculation about his job security was simply a waste of words.
“We need to make the tournament. We want to make the tournament. It’s what we’re trying to do,” Brownell said. “But I also think that’s a little bit of just outside anxiousness that would lead to nothing productive for me.
“It’s not just about wins and losses with me. I understand ultimately that’s how you’re judged at this level. No problem. I can understand that, but there’s a lot more to it about having the right kind of guys doing the right kind of things. We’re doing all those things, building a program and a consistent program.”
Donte Grantham is the top candidate to ascend to the alpha role. As a sophomore, Grantham averaged 10.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and one steal per game.
Clemson also will add three promising transfers who sat out this season – sophomore point guard Shelton Mitchell, sophomore shooting guard Marcquise Reed and freshman post player Elijah Thomas.
“I don’t know if we have a guy who’s going to do what (Blossomgame) did,” Brownell said. “But we have more guys who are ready to be better offensively to help us, so I’m optimistic that we can withstand that.”