Basketball Previews: Meet Dennis Clifford
Steve Donahue said that when he first saw Dennis Clifford, he thought to himself: "he could be a really good Ivy League player." When you are the coach at Cornell that's a great endorsement. When you are the coach at BC, that's the ultimate backhanded compliment. Yet here we are, weeks away from the season and all everyone is talking about is Dennis Clifford. It could be that Donahue's first official BC recruit might turn out to be the biggest surprise. Clifford might turn out to be a really good ACC player. But before we get too far ahead, let's look at where he came from and where he might go.
One of the reasons Clifford didn't generate much high level interest was his level of competition. He played at Milton Academy and AAU ball with the Bay State Magic.
But you cannot teach nor hide height. He is a legitimate 7-footer. That was going to get attention eventually. Clifford is also a decent shooter and has good post moves.
Since Donahue's megaclass hit campus all the talk has been about Clifford. People have been surprised by his agility and how well he moves for a 7-footer. His skill set is stronger than expected. He can play inside and move outside to knock down shots.
But we've heard about plenty of Power Gym superstars before. Clifford is still raw and still untested against elite ACC bigmen. Even if he becomes a good ACC player, he won't be one in three weeks. He'll still be a tall, developing freshman.
I expect Clifford to have an uneven freshman year. He'll have huge defensive assignments and if he shows any offensive skills, he will certainly be the other team's focus.
BC and Donahue obviously have faith in Clifford. They brought him to the ACC media day. We also don't have many bigs so he's going to get serious minutes this year. Who knows if he'll ever be more than a good ivy league player, but it should be fun to watch him develop.