Iowa City, Ia. — Sexton High School in Lansing won a second straight Michigan Class B state title in March.
The Big Reds beat eight tournament opponents by an average of 28.6 points a game. Denzel Valentine, the team’s star, went to Michigan State. Bryn Forbes headed to Cleveland State. And Anthony Clemmons signed with Iowa.
Clemmons averaged 14.7 points a game, but it was defense that caught Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s eye.
“Defense wins games, defense wins championships,” Clemmons said. “I try to come in and be a leader on defense.”
Clemmons played solid defensively in the Hawkeyes’ 73-61 victory against Central Michigan Monday, and he hopes to do it again Thursday when Iowa hosts Howard at 7 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Clemmons also had nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and four assists on Monday. His offense is underrated because of his defensive reputation.
“A lot of people say I’m a good defender, which I am,” the 6-fooot-1 Clemmons said. “But I’m a sleeper when it comes to my offensive abilities. I try not to take bad shots, and take good shots in rhythm.”
Clemmons played the last 15 minutes of Monday’s game, and logged a total of 21. He played alongside Mike Gesell, Iowa’s other freshman point guard.
Clemmons and Gesell, who scored 15 points Monday, have spent a good share of practice time going against each other.
“We try to get each other better,” Clemmons said. “That’s why Coach McCaffery has us on opposite teams.”
But McCaffery put them on the same team in several practices recently as he experimented with different combinations. And when Central Michigan went to a guard-dominated lineup Monday, McCaffery went with Gesell and Clemmons on the floor together a good share of the time.
When he recruited both players, McCaffery told them that was a possibility.
“I think it was important for both of them to know and understand that that might happen, because very rarely when one point guard commits does another point guard come in,” McCaffery said. “But both of them can shoot the ball, and both of them can defend. So I could legitimately, honestly tell them that I would play them both together. I have, and I will.”
WHO: Howard (0-1) at Iowa (2-0).
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City.
TIPOFF: 7 p.m.
TICKETS: $14 adults, $5 youth (18-under). UI students admitted free with valid ID.
RADIO: WHO-AM (1040) and Hawkeye Radio Network.
STAT LEADERS: For Howard – Calvin Thompson 21.0 ppg; Mike Phillips 9.0 rpg for Iowa – Aaron White 15.0 ppg; White 7.0 rpg; Mike Gesell 4.5 apg.
ABOUT THE BISON: Howard was 10-21 last season and started five freshmen down the stretch when it won six of its last nine games.
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Today’s game and Saturday’s against Gardner-Webb are part of the Cancun Challenge.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Freshmen point guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons have accounted for seven of the Hawkeyes’ 14 3-pointers in the first two games.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball