IOWA CITY — Iowa freshman Anthony Clemmons was considered a defensive specialist when he signed his letter of intent last year.
Clemmons, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Lansing, Mich., was expected to spell Mike Gesell, move the ball around, play defense and occasionally score. Well, Clemmons has elevated expectations from specialist to potentially special after his performance in a losing effort at Virginia Tech.
Clemmons earned significant playing time Tuesday in a 95-79 loss. His production was solid in his 16 minutes, including 11 after halftime. He scored nine points, dished two assists, had a steal and one turnover.
“He really fought defensively,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said after the game. “He played intelligent offense. He attacked the basket, he took what was there; he didn’t force anything. He did not play like a freshman.”
Clemmons also provided a spark offensively. He drilled a 3-pointer to keep Iowa within one point four minutes before halftime. He helped whittle Iowa’s deficit during the 16-2 run with a drive to the basket. He later hit a pair of free throws and a jumper to keep the Hawkeyes close before the defense collapsed in the defeat.
“That’s part of my game, being a slasher,” Clemmons said. “I try not to settle for my jumper, that’s one thing I brought into my game coming into college.”
But Clemmons, perhaps the team’s most aggressive perimeter defense, also fouled out. At least two of the fouls were disputable, but he admits he needs to understand how to be more effective on defense.
“With my personality, I’ve just got to be smart and when to go into aggressive mode on defense,” Clemmons said. “I’m an aggressive defender, so it’s not going to stop anything.”
Clemmons averages 3.7 points and about 14 minutes a game. His playing time fluctuates depending on the opponent, and he understands why.
“I know if I’m not playing there’s a reason why I’m not playing,” Clemmons said. “Either the guys are taller or more physical. I’m a physical guy and actually I’m undersized at 6-1.
“If there’s a quick team, I’m expecting to play.”
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