For Iowa freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons, the will to win is all the motivation he needs heading into Thursday’s game against Michigan State.
Clemmons, who grew up in Lansing, Mich., could be bitter about Michigan State coach Tom Izzo not offering him a scholarship, but that isn’t the case.
“It’s not really motivation,” Clemmons said Tuesday. “Tom Izzo is a great coach. I’m not surprised that he didn’t (offer me a scholarship).”
Clemmons said the circumstances weren’t right for him to stay home and be a Spartan.
Michigan State already had two point guards on the roster in Keith Appling and Travis Trice, and Clemmons figured that three would’ve been a crowd.
“They had a bunch of guards there,” Clemmons said. “So even if they did offer me, I would have taken that into consideration. I would have looked at my playing time, how am I going to be able to fit in there with those two guys?”
The 6-foot-1 Clemmons attended perennial power Sexton High School in Lansing and was part of two state championship basketball teams. He also played in the same high school backcourt with close friend Denzel Valentine, who is now a freshman at Michigan State.
Their high school coach was Valentine’s father, Carlton, who played for the Spartans from 1985-88.
“I grew up going to the (Michigan State) games with Denzel and his father,” Clemmons said. “But now I’m going against him. There is still love there, but we’re still trying to go for it.”
Clemmons and Valentine both have made significant contributions this season. Clemmons has started the last eight games and leads Iowa with 62 assists while committing just 23 turnovers. The 6-5 Valentine has started 12 of 15 games and is averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
“You can tell that he’s played a lot of basketball,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Valentine. “He comes from a basketball family. His father was a great player. He just really knows how to play.”
As for his point guard, McCaffery seems confident that Clemmons will handle the pressure of facing his home-town school.
“I don’t worry about him too much with that kind of stuff,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think it will impact him at all.”
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball