“A human stat sheet”: Larry Brown likens K.J. McDaniels to a couple of NBA All-Stars

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

NEW YORK – Asked who K.J. McDaniels emulates, Larry Brown couldn’t place a specific college player as the Clemson junior’s doppelganger.

So the longtime NBA coach went right to the pros.

“He reminds me of Paul George and Andre Iguodala, the kid (Kawhi) Leonard at San Antonio,” said Brown, SMU’s head coach, starting off with the Pacers superstar and one of the Eastern Conference All-Star starters last February.

“(He’s) a human stat sheet. Guys that find ways to help your team win. He’s going to be playing at the next level doing the same thing.”

McDaniels, told of the George comparison a few minutes later and a few roundtables away at the Marriott Marquis overlooking Times Square, couldn’t help but blush.

“That’s a big compliment from Coach Brown,” Clemson’s star forward said. “I appreciate that.”

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Five catalysts for an unforgettable Clemson basketball season

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – During ACC Operation Basketball at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte, media voters picked Clemson to finish 14th in the 15-team standings, trailed only by Virginia Tech.

Personally, I thought that was wrong.

I had Clemson 15th.

I couldn’t get this Brad Brownell quote (among others) out of my head:

“Our guys don’t get upset too much. I feel like I’m the guy who kind of has to do that for them, and make them understand, hey, we can’t keep making these kind of mistakes. We have to correct these mistakes quicker. It’s a little frustrating. It’s a little challenging.”

Media day is a day for stumping your team. Not stomping it.

So kids, that’s why the expectations were low for this Clemson men’s basketball team. That’s why the NIT’s a bigger deal to the Tigers than, say, Kentucky or Indiana. That’s why students rushed the floor last night after beating mighty Belmont … that’s written in jest, but it wasn’t the opponent, it was the moment.

That’s why. But how?

Five hallmarks of this hard-to-forget renaissance season produced by Clemson on the hardwood, which finishes up next week in the NIT semifinals (and perhaps the championship) at Madison Square Garden in New York City:

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Last year’s batting champ Shane Kennedy “back in the swing of things” after knee rehab

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – He might be one of the no-names for a little while, but Shane Kennedy hopes to make his mark by the end of 2014.

It’s not a bad deal, all things considered: suffering the dreaded ACL injury in October, he’s appreciative of the chance to get back on the game field before April Fool’s Day, giving Clemson’s 2013 batting champ (a team-best .317, 5 HR, 35 RBI) a respectable amount of time to contribute in 2014.

“I owe it all to my trainer, Travis (Johnston, the team’s athletic trainer),” Kennedy said Friday night after collecting a pair of hits in No. 13 Clemson’s 9-3 rout of No. 2 Florida State.

“The day after surgery, I told him, do whatever you had to do to get me back, and he did that. There was some pain involved, but I worked my butt off and got back as fast as I could.”

Kennedy admits he’s not 100 percent yet, but the calendar waits for no one. A former junior college standout at North Florida, it was either sit out all of 2014 and take a medical redshirt or salvage whatever he could of his senior year.

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7 at 7: Tyler Shatley’s a man, he benched 40 … and more Pro Day notes

CLEMSON – Some day-after notes from Pro Timing Day, and we start with a guy who sent more weight skyward in two minutes than pretty much all of us do in a whole week. Or month. Or ever.

1) Tyler Shatley needed more than five seconds to go from A to B. But he’s going to be remembered for an entirely different kind of 40.

Shatley pumped out forty reps on the bench press at midfield of Clemson’s indoor practice facility, eliciting hoots, hollers and whoops from his teammates and supporters as well as furious note-taking by the 60-some scouts in attendance.

Only one of the 300-or-so prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis two weeks ago produced more than 36 reps (UNC center Russell Bodine, 42 reps.)

Let’s do the math here: 40 repetitions of a 225-pound bar. That’s 9,000 pounds. That’s four and a half tons. That’s roughly the equivalent of four Alaskan moose, the largest land animal in North America.

“40 was right around where I thought I’d hit,” Shatley said. “You always want a few more, but that’s what I got.”

Shatley, Clemson’s starting right guard the past two years and a 2012 Strength and Conditioning All-American, has benched more. Or at least so says S&C director Joey Batson.

“I’ve done 42 while I was here. I guess Coach Batson, you have to take his word for it,” Shatley said. “But that would be my record.”

Shatley does keep a counter in his head, so he knows when to take a brief pause and start back up again.

“It helps me gauge where I’m at,” Shatley said. “I count in my head and go as many as I can before I take my first break. So it felt good.”

The Seahawks and 49ers have been in touch with Shatley, and that number could increase for someone not on the draft radar who could be called in for more individual workouts.

“Finally, I ran my last 40 hopefully for a while,” Shatley said. “I can stop doing all this training for the small guys, and we can do some big-guy training and offensive line work.”

2) Brandon Ford got a second chance to make a first impression.

Last playing tight end for Clemson in 2012, Ford tore his hamstring early in 2013 while in camp with the New England Patriots. It could have been an intriguing opportunity, with Aaron Hernandez jailed for murder and Rob Gronkowski dealing with multiple injuries. But Ford had been released in August, and therefore had the opportunity to return to Clemson’s Pro Day and work with his old teammates.

“For me, I’ve been training ever since I got hurt,” Ford said. “I wanted to show (scouts) that even though I tore my hamstring, I still run the same, or faster. I wanted to show I still have strength, I still can move out my hips, I still can run, catch the ball great, look smooth in routes, and I think I accomplished that today.”

Ford, a Hanahan High School product who’s training in Clemson, said he’s fully healed from the hamstring injury.

“From this day forward,” Ford said, “it’s all on the teams and what they want to invest in me and we’ll go from there.”

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Brenner: Money talks, which is why Tajh Boyd’s decision to return to Clemson in 2013 was right

Tajh Boyd

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – So here’s what I was thinking the morning of Feb. 26, a few days after getting back from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, about Tajh Khiry Boyd.

He had two really bad games in 2013. He looked poor against No. 1 Florida State, the national champion (No. 1 scoring defense, No. 1 pass defense) and No. 4 South Carolina, the unbeatable host (No. 12 scoring defense, No. 12 pass defense.) He also had a bunch of really good games – clutch vs. Georgia and Ohio State, dominant vs. Syracuse and Virginia and Georgia Tech.

With aid of private QB coach, Tajh Boyd is now a pro-style passer

Meanwhile, you have Johnny Manziel, who really struggled against LSU (No. 21 scoring, No. 13 pass) and Missouri (No. 34 scoring, No. 109 pass. One oh nine!) Teddy Bridgewater fell off the radar when Louisville lost to UCF (though it’s hard to ignore 71 percent passing and a 31-4 TD-INT ratio) and Blake Bortles, I mean, he beat up Baylor. Congratulations. Big XII defenses are horrendous. Look it up.

I digress. Trashing the Big Three Quarterback Prospects of 2014 isn’t my point.

Here’s my point.

Tajh Boyd is who he is.

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