Campbell’s Chris Clemons keeps hitting photographs close to midcourt logos, dunking in visitors and passing massive names on the record of school basketball’s greatest all-time scorers.
The national scoring chief has a fearless recreation packed right into a 5-foot-9 frame, making the senior the headliner of school basketball’s crop of massive-time undersized scorers — together with No. 10 Marquette’s Markus Howard and No. 12 Purdue’s Carsen Edwards.
They are Mighty Mites in a recreation that endlessly yearns for greater, quicker and stronger.
“The primary factor is confidence,” Clemons stated in an interview with The Related Press. “You all the time need to be assured in figuring out you possibly can play with anyone. I feel that carries me by way of principally anything, defensively and offensively — that I can play just in addition to anybody else no matter measurement.”
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That’s definitely true of Clemons and a number of other others nationally getting into the week:
— Clemons averages a nationwide-greatest 29.1 points, up from round 25 in each of the earlier two seasons, and is eleventh in Division I historical past with 2,930 points;
— Howard, a 5-11 junior, is fourth at 25.2 points;
— Edwards, a junior and preseason AP All-American listed at 6-foot on the NCAA leaderboard but 6-1 by the varsity, is seventh at 24.6 factors;
— There are 4 other 20-point scorers standing 6 ft or shorter: Hampton junior Jermaine Marrow (6-0, 24.9 factors), Texas San Antonio sophomore Jhivvan Jackson (6-0, 22.7), VMI sophomore Bubba Parham (5-11, 20.5) and Northern Illinois junior Eugene German (6-zero, 20.zero);
— And the season’s solely two 50-level games came from small scorers: Howard with 53 points towards Creighton in January and Furman 5-11 junior Jordan Lyons with fifty four towards North Greenville in November, although that was an outlier amid Lyons’ 16.three-point average.
“Should you’ve grown up with the ball in your palms your entire life — you’ve got had the ball, you’ve got made selections, you’ve got needed to rating, you’ve got had to figure out ways — then you are going to discover a approach,” stated Kevin McGeehan, Clemons’ coach at Campbell.
“It is like individuals say that rebounding translates, proper? Guys which are nice highschool rebounders often find yourself being great school rebounders. Properly, small scorers are the identical. It actually does not matter. You may need to develop a floater or develop a stepback shot . whatever it is, you determine a means.”
In Howard’s case, it begins with maximizing each alternative.
He’s capturing 43.7 % on 3-pointers and hit 10 in his fifty three-level outing. However he will get to the line, too, the place he makes an attempt seven photographs per recreation and shoots ninety one.6 %. That alone can flip a superb recreation into an amazing one, like when he hit 19 of 21 free throws towards Kansas State in considered one of two 45-point showings this season.
“My entire life, I’ve played above my age,” stated Howard, who had 38 factors in Saturday’s win towards reigning nationwide champion Villanova. “I all the time performed three and four years older than what I used to be. I performed towards guys that have been older than me, stronger than me, taller than me. . So once I obtained into school, it was one thing I wasn’t really not used to seeing.”
Amid that school success, it’s unclear how their video games may translate in the NBA.
Jay Williams, a former AP national school player of the yr at Duke and NBA player, stated they will need to find the best fit — perhaps a roster looking for scoring or playmaking off the bench — whereas overcoming defensive considerations.
“You might have loads of guards who’re just taller, stronger, athletic and who’ve publish games,” stated Williams, now an ESPN analyst. “I feel that is all the time the problem when you might have smaller guys that are available. . There’s the disadvantage as a result of a workforce will run the identical scheme relentlessly until you stop it.”
“This isn’t me saying that Chris Clemons cannot do it or Markus Howard cannot do it. However we don’t see them being guarded by guys who are 6-6, 6-7” in school.
Thus far, Clemons is flourishing towards nearly anyone.
With a robust one hundred eighty-pound body and a quick release, Clemons comes round screens and elevates for 3-pointers even with a defender on his hip. He is all the time ready for the large shot, including when he raced upcourt to bury a 30-footer at the horn to finish with 39 points and win at Huge South Conference-leading Radford.
He’s also received hops. Just watch his move towards Presbyterian for instance, when he came round a perimeter display previous two defenders and took off from the edge of the paint to throw down a heavy dunk.
“When it’s time to put on a present, I’ll put on a present,” Clemons stated afterward. “I really like to offer the followers what they came to see.”
Clemons, whose favorite participant is former Georgetown and NBA star Allen Iverson, had a season-high forty five factors towards those Hoyas in a December loss and earned excessive praise from Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing.
“He shoots the 3 like Steph (Curry) all the best way out past the NBA 3-level line,” the longtime NBA nice stated. “He gets to the opening and he knocks down free throws. He’s an ideal player.”
Clemons’ solely other gives out of high school in Raleigh came from Gardner-Webb and UNC Greensboro. But he’s scored more factors than Duke’s J.J. Redick, Indiana State’s Larry Chook, North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough and Houston’s Elvin Hayes in his climb up the NCAA listing.
He might cross Kansas’ Danny Manning (2,951) and Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson (2,973) with two games this week as he closes in on turning into the ninth player to score 3,000 profession factors.
And he is on pace to grow to be the most effective scorer shorter than 6-zero. That mark is held by Saint Peter’s Keydren Clark, who at 5-9 scored three,058 factors (25.9 profession common) from 2002-06 before an overseas pro career.
“I feel like I’ve put within the work to be successful earlier than and now it is simply starting to present, individuals are taking notice of it,” Clemons stated. “That’s really massive for any player: simply figuring out what you need. You have to work on what you need and excellent that, and you will be successful.”
Comply with Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap