Clemson Basketball: Previewing the Center Position

As the Clemson Tigers look forward to next year’s season, one of the players who is looking to be a major impact for them is their center, Landry Nnoko.  Nnoko, a 6’10” and 250-pound native of Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa, will be a junior this season.

Clemson Basketball (usable)Nnoko was able to come in his freshman year and play in all 31 games as the backup to veterans Devin Booker and Milton Jennings. He averaged almost 7 minutes, 1 point and 1.4 rebounds a game.

This past season, as a sophomore, and with the departure of Booker and Jennings, Nnoko played every game but one as the starting center. With every passing game of the season, it was easy to see Nnoko’s improvement.

He finished the season averaging 28 points and almost 7 points per game. He finished with 69 total blocked shots and 217 rebounds. When Clemson knocked off #16 Duke, Nnoko had one of his best games of the season with 13 rebounds, 4 blocks and 10 points.

He struggled being a consistent scorer for the Tigers. He had 8 games in double digits, but also had games where he only had 2 or 4 points. As the season went on, he began to see have more of scoring impact but still was a little inconsistent.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding Nnoko and what he will bring to the Tigers this season. With the loss of KJ McDaniels, who is leaving Clemson a year early to declare for the NBA Draft, the Tigers will be looking for both a leader and scorer. Hopefully with a lot of work on his offensive game this summer, the Tigers will be able to count on Nnoko to be someone they can turn to for consistent points.

The Tigers rely heavily on their defense to win their games; they are not known for their high scoring offense. Nnoko fits into that mold and was able to grab about 6 rebounds per game. But with the loss of McDaniels, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Nnoko will have to step up big time on defense. McDaniels averaged 7 rebounds per game and 3 blocks per game; the Tigers will be looking for someone to help replace the void that will be felt by McDaniels’ absence. Again, with a lot of work this summer, that someone could be Landry Nnoko.

Unfortunately, Nnoko had to have surgery in early May to repair a torn meniscus that he suffered during the season. Trainers say that he has been doing repair and spot shooting, but won’t be able to fully participate in summer workouts or practices until the middle of June.

The Tigers also have two other centers on their roster, Sidy Djitte and Josh Smith, who also plays forward. Smith, a sophomore, has played very little his first two years at Clemson, but continues to improve and could play more for the Tigers in the upcoming season, especially with the loss of McDaniels, the Tigers’ starting forward. Djitte, a 6’10” and 250-pound freshman this past season, was able to work his way to being Nnoko’s backup. There is a lot of potential for Djitte this season as he continues to get stronger and improve.

The future for the center position for the Clemson Tigers looks very bright. With some big holes to fill on both offense and defense, it looks like Landry Nnoko, along with the help of Josh Smith and Sidy Djitte, could help to fill those holes.