CLEMSON -- Brad Brownell says a quality offensive team must have three dimensions: effective 3-point shooting, a low-post presence and a player who can create his own shot off the dribble.
"You can't be one dimensional," said Brownell, the Clemson men's basketball coach. "Sometimes it even looks like we've been zero dimensional."
Clemson (11-11, 3-5 in the ACC) returns home against Maryland (13-9, 3-5) at 7 p.m. tonight. The Tigers, coming off a loss at Virginia Tech, believe they might have found a new offensive dimension in K.J. McDaniels.
The 6-6 freshman forward scored a career-high 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting in his first career start Saturday, displaying the ability to create off the dribble and finish scoring chances with highlight-worthy dunks.
Yes, McDaniels missed a pair of free throws that might have sent the game to overtime but that he was able to beat defenders off the dribble and reach the free throw line was encouraging for Brownell as his team ranks ninth in the ACC in offense (64.9 points per game) and 10th in free throw attempts (396).
"I think we can all read too much into one game," Brownell said. "He's still like a fawn, watching him grow. He needs to get stronger … and his skill set has to get better. But he shows flashes of things. He shows you things we can't coach when he comes and blocks a shot, or takes off five feet in front of the basket and dunks.
"He can get to some places and finish some plays that other guys just can't do."
He can do things other players cannot do like rising above the rim Saturday to block an Erick Green shot, one of five blocks on the night by McDaniels.
"You see those high-flying things all the time," said teammate Bernard Sullivan of McDaniels' play at Virginia Tech. "It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We've seen him do that in practice all the time. He's a freak athlete."
Though he has the look of an SEC wide receiver, McDaniels chose basketball to be like his dad, Kevin McDaniels, an all-conference basketball player at South Alabama from 1989-91.
"I've been working on my dribbling, my shooting and driving to the hole and getting a little tougher," McDaniels said. "(Brownell) wants me to be more of a scorer."
McDaniels has a tattoo on his right arm that reads "the sky is the limit."
Whatever his limit is, whatever his ceiling is, star-starved Clemson needs the high-flying McDaniels to reach it.