Clemson Basketball could be in line for a big 2020-21 season after leading scorer Aamir Simms withdrew from the NBA Draft process.
Clemson football has reigned supreme at the school in recent years and for good reason, with four national title trips and two championships since 2015. But Clemson Basketball team should be able to pique major interest in 2020-21.
The Tigers were already set to return a majority of their starting lineup from a year ago when the Tigers finished a game over .500 in the overall standings. That was before star forward Aamir Simms decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to school for his senior season.
Simms had until June 3 to pull his name from the draft, so he truly took his decision down to the wire. Coach Brad Brownell won’t be complaining, though, as Simms was the best player on Clemson’s roster last season and almost surely will be again next season.
As a junior, Simms averaged 13.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, shooting 47.4 percent from the floor. He also shot 40.0 percent from three-point range, a collegiate high for the Palmyra, Virginia native.
Simms had one of his biggest games of the season on January 14, when he scored 25 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double in a 79-72 upset of the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils. He also dished five assists in the victory. Three days prior to that, Simms dropped 20 points in a 79-76 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson’s first victory ever in Chapel Hill.
Simms led the Tigers in four of the five major statistical categories last season (points, rebounds, assists, blocks) and is the only returning double-digit scorer following Tevin Mack’s graduation. That means he could be in line for a monster senior season, a year after his play earned him an All-ACC Third Team placement.
should be ready to step into a larger role after averaging 9.5 points per game as a sophomore. The Tigers will also be getting back guard
, who averaged just 6.0 points per game, but never found much of a groove after
of the non-conference slate.
Clemson also has a couple of key additions joining the fold. Former Fordham guard Nick Honor gains eligibility after sitting out a season; as a freshman, he averaged 15.3 points per game. Freshman power forward P.J. Hall will also be expected to contribute immediately, as he’s the team’s highest-rated recruit since 2009.
While it seems like this is said on an almost annual basis, this is a key year for Brownell. A disappointing 9-11 finish in ACC play last season put his job in jeopardy just two years after leading the Tigers to their first Sweet 16 appearance in 21 years. Brownell is 185-142 in ten years on the job, with just two NCAA Tournament trips. He is under contract through 2024, but patience is wearing thin in South Carolina.
That being said, Clemson has the makings of a team finishing in the top half of the ACC in 2020-21, a good spot to be in for a return trip to the Big Dance. The return of Aamir Simms solidifies that position for the Tigers.