Brad Brownell addressed a glaring lack of size on his team this week, as Sidy Djitte committed to Clemson. The 6’10”, 235-lb center from Senegal was orginally looking at Memphis and Cincinnati before opting to get in on the ground level in the ACC.
Brownell’s Tigers haven’t made the NCAA touranment since previous head coach Oliver Purnell left for DePaul. Lack of a quality big man has been one of the issues keeping the team in the lower echelon of the ACC standings, and it’s likely to get even more challenging with Pitt and Syracuse coming in. Brownell has turned to imports to bridge the height gap recently, following Catalin Baciu’s departure with the signing of 6’10” Cameroonian Landry Nnoko, who averaged just 1.0 points, 1.4 boards and just 0.3 blocks per game in limited minutes as a freshman.
Djitte isn’t likely to be an immediate solution in the frontcourt. He’s only lived in the U.S. since 2011, so he hasn’t had a ton of time to get used to the game as it’s played at the highest levels. His high school averages of 17 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks helped Northwood Temple Academy to the Carolina Christian Conference title, but it’s anyone’s guess how those numbers will translate to college basketball’s highest level. According to the Fayetteville Observer, Brownell has found some more experienced inside help.
Three players, including 6-10 junior college forward Ibrahim Djambo, already have signed with Clemson. Djambo, who averaged 17.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a sophomore at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., committed to the Tigers on April 23. Djitte and Djambo will be joined by 6-3 wing Patrick Rooks of Charlotte and 6-6 wing Austin Ajukwa of Columbia, S.C.
Brownell is a respected coach with a strong defensive pedigree, but his league is just getting tougher. He’ll have to do some serious coaching to get his front line ready for ACC play.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.