Clemson star McDaniels banged up for Duke rematch
Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels is suffering from a bruised left shoulder, but the first-team All-ACC forward expects to play through the pain in Friday night’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal against No. 7 Duke at Greensboro Coliseum.
A right-handed shooter, McDaniels suffered the injury on Feb. 22 in a 63-55 loss at Georgia Tech.
On Thursday night, when those teams played an ACC Tournamnt second-round game, McDaniels wore a shoulder brace and hit just 4 of 15 shots while scoring 18 points in the Tigers’ 69-65 overtime win.
“He’s battling it right now,” Brownell said. “He’s had that shoulder injury for a week, or two now. Unfortunately, I think it’s progressively getting a little more problematic.”
McDaniels said he’s able to stretch out and get relief in the injured area when he’s not playing, but that it bothers him more as game’s progress.
“It heals when I lay down but when I get out there, it gets knocked around, kind of out of place,” McDaniels said. “It’s kind of throbbing. But it’s alright.”
McDaniels said he still has confidence in his jump shot and that he will take a shot when left open. But he agreed that aggressive drives to the basket might be more prudent.
“It takes a lot for me to shoot,” McDaniels said. “But if I stay aggressive I feel like I can knock some things down even with the shoulder. I’m a righty but when I do go to my left it hurts.”
The 6-6 junior from Birmingham, Ala., is projected as a late first-round pick should he choose to forgo his final season at Clemson. He’s averaging 17.2 points per game this season and he led the ACC in blocked shots with 83.
On Jan. 11, when Clemson beat Duke 72-59 at Littlejohn Coliseum, McDaniels scoring 24 points while making 8 of 15 shots, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots for the Tigers.
Since his injury on Feb. 22, he’s had a 26-point performance in a double-overtime win over Maryland and a 24-point day when Clemson lost to Pittsburgh in overtime.
He also made just 3 of 11 shots to score 10 points in a loss at Wake Forest.
“He’s struggling a little bit,” Brownell said. “It’s certainly bothering him. Unfortunately you are in a situation now where you just have to turn around and keep playing. There’s nothing structurally wrong with it. He’s just got deep bruises. He’s just got to keep playing as best he can and tough it out as best he can.”