The Deacs are coming off a tough loss to Florida State in their first ACC game of the season, but they have a chance to pick up a win Saturday against Clemson in the Joel. Coming into this game, Clemson sits at 10-2, with losses to Xavier and Oklahoma. Earlier this season they picked up a quality road win against in-state rival South Carolina, who was ranked 22nd at the time. Traveling to and from Annapolis this week (How ‘bout them Deacs?) has left me short on time, so unfortunately there is but one player to watch.
Jaron Blossomgame | RS Sr. Forward | #5
Am I the only one that feels like Blossomgame is on his 10th year as a Tiger? The redshirt senior is coming off his best season at Clemson, picking up both 1st Team All-ACC honors and the ACC Most Improved Player award by both the coaches and the media for the 2015-2016 season. He declared for the NBA draft in the offseason, but since he did not sign with an agent, he could, and did, return to Clemson for his senior season. He is averaging 17.3 points per game, 6 rebounds per game, and 1.2 blocks per game so far this year. Blossomgame is probably one of the most athletic players in the ACC. Being 6-7 with his ability to handle the ball makes him a tough player to stop on the drive. He is shooting 57% from inside the arc this season, and gets to the free throw line almost 6 times a game. In last season’s win over the Deacs, Blossomgame scored 22 points, shooting 7-14 from the field and 7-9 from the free throw line. His outside shooting has not been very good this season. He has taken 36 3-pointers so far and only hit 6 of them (17%), so while the Deacs won’t want to leave him completely wide open from deep, they will definitely want to play him for the drive.
His size and jumping ability makes him an excellent rebounder as well. Against Wake Forest last season, he pulled down 13 rebounds, including 4 offensive rebounds. Keeping Blossomgame off the offensive glass will be vital to Wake Forest picking up their first ACC win.
Blossomgame presents a tough match up for Wake Forest I’m guessing Manning will start with Arians on him and use McClinton off the bench. With his ability to drive and get to the line, Collins will need to be careful and not get stuck on the bench due to foul trouble. Blossomgame is one the ACC’s best players, and stopping him, however difficult it may be, will be key to Wake Forest getting to 1-1 in conference play.