Clemson’s McDaniels leaving for NBA
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Clemson junior K.J. McDaniels is leaving school for the NBA draft.
McDaniels, who led the team in points, rebounds, blocks and steals, announced his departure on Tuesday.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity these past three seasons to grow as a player and person at Clemson,” McDaniels said in a statement by the school. “None of this would’ve been possible without the guidance and support of my coaches, teammates and family.”
In several NBA mock drafts, the 6-foot-6 forward is projected as a middle-to-late selection in the first round.
McDaniels was Clemson’s unquestioned star also led the Tigers in three-point goals last season. He earned Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year honors and a spot on the first team as voted on by ACC media and part of the all-ACC second team on balloting of coaches.
McDaniels twice scored 30 points in a game this season, averaging 17.1 points in 36 contests. With 100 blocks, he joined former Tiger greats Tree Rollins and Sharone Wright with most in a season.
Clemson fans at Littlejohn Coliseum chanted “One more year” in the home finale against Belmont on March 25 in the NIT quarterfinal victory. McDaniel said after the game he wasn’t sure what he’d do.
“This was not an easy decision, but I am excited to take the next step toward fulfilling my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA,” he said.
McDaniels blossomed this season with his soaring dunks and rising blocks from behind on surprised opponents.
“I’m sure some of the teams that don’t play him as often, you’re surprised because all of a sudden you think you’ve got a layup and he comes over and pins it on the glass,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said after an NIT victory Georgia State. “I’ve seen a lot of it.”
On Tuesday, Brownell thanked McDaniels for what he’d done for the program.
“He has had a tremendous impact on our program and improved as much as any player I’ve ever coached. I’m extremely proud of his development and excited for his future at the next level,” said the fourth-year coach.
McDaniels, from Birmingham, Ala., was a driving force behind the Tigers’ defense that ranked No. 1 in the NCAA in defending the 3-pointer (.285), No. 5 in opponent points per game (58.4) and No. 8 in blocks (6.1).
McDaniels led all ACC players with six games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season. He posted 13 total 20-point games after entering his junior season without one in 58 career outings.