Bio: Sophomore, 6'1, 190 (Lansing, Michigan)
2012-13 stats: 16.8 minutes per game, 4.3 points per game, 2.8 assists per game, 36.2% 3PT%
What we saw last season
Was there any player who had more spittle-flecked invective aimed at him by Fran McCaffery last year than Anthony Clemmons? The problem usually stemmed from a seeming miscommunication about expectations: McCaffery expected his backup point guard to not turn the ball over very much, and Clemmons seemed committed to turning the ball over as much as humanly possible. He led the team in turnover percentage by a sizable margin at 29.8% and had two or more turnovers in 19 of his 38 games (and four games where he had four or more turnovers). Whenever Clemmons would make an unforced error, you could expect without fail the sharp report of McCaffery's voice, followed by a swift benching. But Clemmons also provided glimpses of the player he could become. He showed a very good stroke from three-point range (second best on the team in percentage terms) and occasionally got to the rim and finished with strength.
What we need to see this season
No more turnovers. Okay, maybe not zero turnovers, but fewer of the inexplicable four-turnovers-15-minutes nights that nearly turned Fran into a murderer many times over last year. The ball-handling skills have never been the issue with Clemmons, and some of his most head-scratching and infuriating turnovers were of the unforced variety. Assuming the game has slowed down sufficiently for him this year, the turnovers will go down. If not, well... Clemmons will probably still play – there is no one else to back up Mike Gesell – but his minutes will remain limited.
Beyond that, Clemmons has the chance to develop into one of Iowa's few offensive threats off the dribble. On a team with a seemingly endless supply of non-dribbling 6'8" dudes, Clemmons could be the one player with the speed and strength to get to the rim on his own and finish there. So far this year, opposing teams have chosen to defend Iowa by zoning them up, forcing them to shoot from the outside and keeping their big men off the boards. In this environment, it will be crucial to have players like Clemmons who can penetrate the defense, or at the very least, make open threes.
Perhaps Clemmons's greatest asset will be his ability to run the fast break. He has the strength to grab rebounds as a guard, which allows him to immediately start fast breaks. So far he's shown good instincts in this area, and the thought of him running the court with Gabe Olaseni to his left and Aaron White to his right is an enticing one.
Lastly, don't sleep on the importance of Clemmons's defense. He didn't show much of an aptitude for stealing the ball last year, but he is a good positional defender with the strength to guard ones or twos and the speed to chase opposing guards in Fran's harassing system. With Eric May departed from the team, Iowa will need a designated perimeter chaser, and Clemmons is probably the player best suited to the task.
Clemmons grows up, puts away childish turnover things, and becomes the man for Iowa's offense. He proves so adept at breaking down defenses off the dribble that a mini-power struggle erupts on the team between him, Devyn Marble and Aaron White. A Game of Thrones-style web of intrigue envelops the team for a brief spell in January, but is resolved by Fran saying "Knock it off, you chowderheads." Clemmons leads the team in assists and his many alley-oop assists leads to Iowa City claiming the title of "Lob City" from Los Angeles.
Most likely scenario
Clemmons continues his incremental growth from last year and develops into a solid, but unspectacular, backup for Mike Gesell. He runs the second unit effectively, and the excellent defense provided and fast-breaking offense of the Clemmons-Uthoff-Olaseni lineups makes fans wonder if maybe some of those guys should be starting.
Be a little selfish. We all love Fran's fiery temper, but sometimes I fear that he has conditioned his players into a Pavlovian fear of risk on offense. In the case of Clemmons, maybe some of that fear was necessary last year, but for the sake of Iowa's offense, it would be nice if he could put all that aside and just focus on using his skills to smoke fools and get to the rim as much as he possibly can.