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.