In addition to being considered the other point guard in Iowa’s heralded freshmen class, Anthony Clemmons also was labeled as a defensive stopper coming out of high school.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery knew better.
McCaffery had seen Clemmons play enough on the AAU circuit with a star-studded cast to realize that Clemmons could score, too.
McCaffery now is seeing glimpses of it at the collegiate level with the 6-foot-1 Clemmons twice coming off the bench to score nine points in a game, including during Tuesday’s 95-79 loss to Virginia Tech, which lowered Iowa’s record to 5-2.
Clemmons has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team among players with at least 10 assists. The Lansing, Mich., native also is ranked third on the team with 13 assists overall heading into Saturday’s game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It’s interesting because we signed him off of his AAU team, and he played on a really good one” McCaffery said Thursday. “Pretty much everybody on the starting five either was or has gotten a Division I scholarship.
“So his role on that team was not to be a 20-point scorer. But there were times when we saw him get 13, 15, depending upon the game. I remember a monster dunk he made over a guy. There is a lot in there.”
Clemmons figured to be the backup point guard behind fellow freshman Mike Gesell heading into the season and that’s been the case. Gesell was more heralded than Clemmons coming out of high school, but Gesell has struggled at times this season as the starting point guard.
Gesell was in foul trouble against Virginia Tech and only scored five points in 19 minutes of action.
Clemmons helped to fill the void by playing 16 minutes before fouling out late in the game. Clemmons made 3-of-5 field-goal attempts, including one 3-point basket. He also had two assists and one steal.
“I’ve always been like that for every team I’ve played on; I’ve always been able to score,” Clemmons said. “That’s what people underestimate. So once I’m aggressive and in an attack mode I feel like I can put the ball in the hole.
“Sometimes, I have to do whatever it takes to keep my team going. If I have to score, then I’ve got to score. If I’ve got to distribute, then I’ve got to distribute. I just want to do anything I’ve got to do to win.”
Clemmons and Gesell are part of an 11-man rotation that McCaffery seems content on using. McCaffery also seems content on using his two freshmen point guards at the same time, as he said he would before the season.
“Clemmons has really grown up and will be a big factor as we move forward,” McCaffery said.
Clemmons was asked Thursday if he’s surprised by how much he and Gesell have played together so far this season.
“Actually I am, but I’m not,” Clemmons said. “I had heard coach McCaffery say we were going to play a lot together.
“So me and him playing together and me on the ball as the point guard, that’s better because Mike is a scorer. So I’m not really that surprised.”
Clemmons understands the challenges that come with trying to please everybody in an 11-man rotation. He knows his playing time could fluctuate with each game.
“It all really depends on the match-ups,” Clemmons said. “I understand basketball. I know if I’m not playing there is a reason I’m not playing.”
Clemmons, Gesell and 7-1 freshman center Adam Woodbury have struggled with foul problems this season as they adjust to a new level of competition.
“That’s kind of hard because I like to get into defending,” Clemmons said. “With my personality, I’ve just have to be smart on when to go to an aggressive mode on defense. When somebody is moving the ball or going to the basket, not to go for a reach-in or that type of thing.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball