GREENVILLE, S.C. — Brad Brownell did not lie. He admitted he was a little concerned his Clemson basketball team might lose his best player by the way PJ Hall was performing at the NBA Combine last month.
“A little, but I am always happy for those guys to get to that point because that is a life-long dream for them to get to wear an NBA logo and to perform at the highest level in front of people that they want to impress,” Clemson’s head coach said at Tuesday’s IPTAY Prowl and Growl event at the Greenville Civic Center.
However, Brownell also knows how much Hall loves Clemson. He figured, unless Hall was certain he could earn a first-round grade, he was going to return to Clemson, which he did. The All-ACC performer announced on May 25 he is returning to Clemson for one more season.
“PJ loves Clemson and he wants to leave a legacy there,” Brownell said. “I knew, unless he felt really strongly that he might be like a first-round pick or something, I felt pretty strongly that he would want to come back.”
Hall returns as he ACC’s top returning scorer from last season, as he averaged 15.3 points per game. He also averaged 5.7 rebounds and shot 53.5 percent from the field, 39.8 behind the three-point line and 78.6 from the foul line.
“He is probably the best recruit we have had at Clemson. We are super excited,” Brownell said. “I think it was a great process for PJ. He learned a few things that we have talked about with him for a while, but the experience of playing out there with those kinds of settings is invaluable. I think he will grow from it. I think he has had a really good spring and is excited about next year.”
So is Clemson. Hall’s return to Tiger Town is the latest move in a spring that has seen Brownell’s program have its best off-season in his 14 seasons there.
Last month, star guard Chase Hunter announced his return to the team, which came on the heels of Air Force transfer Jake Heidbreder announcing his commitment to Clemson.
The Tigers also picked up NC State wingman Jack Clark from the transfer portal, as well as UNC Greensboro big man Bas Leyte. Clemson then finished a strong off-season in the portal by scooping up former Syracuse guard Joe Girard.
“I am really excited about our team,” Brownell said. “I think we added some good pieces in the transfer portal. Obviously, having guys like PJ Hall and Chase Hunter back, two-high level players, we have some younger guys that gained valuable experience last year, so I think we have a chance to have a really good team.”
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