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New Faces From Old Places: Chris Clemons

We talk about Rockets undrafted free agent Chris Clemons with Mitchell Northam of Mid-Major Madness.

NCAA Basketball: Campbell at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

We are bringing back an old series to TDS with the return of “New Faces.”

Former Campbell guard and current Rockets summer leaguer Chris Clemons knocked down 3,225 points in four years with Campbell, and only Hall of Famer Pete Maravich and Freeman Williams scored more points in their NCAA careers.

Clemons has brought his scoring prowess with him to Vegas, averaging 21.3 points per game in the Rockets’ first three Summer League contests.

The Dream Shake spoke with Mitchell Northam of Mid-Major Madness to talk about former Campbell guard and what he feels he can bring to the NBA. Thank you for participating, Mitch!

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What is Clemons’s biggest strength?

Mitchell Northam: Mid-Major Madness: It’s his ability to score in bunches, seemingly at will, and against any opponent. In basketball media, we throw around the term “heat check” a lot, but Clemons is that. He’s a guy that can come off the bench, swish a few threes and throw down a couple of dunks in a matter of minutes. There’s a certain confidence and fearlessness about him too. He feels like he can get his shot off at any moment and score over anyone in the paint. That’s how he racked up buzzer beaters and became one of college basketball’s all-time leading scorers.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What is Clemons’s biggest weakness?

Mitchell Northam: Mid-Major Madness: Clemons can’t fix his height, but he could improve on his passing. Despite being labeled as a point guard at Campbell, he was never a prolific passer by any means. He never averaged more than 3.1 assists per-game in a single season. Part of that was because his teammates simply weren’t as good as him, and on any given possession, the best chance Campbell had to score was Clemons creating his own shot, or him being the recipient of a teammate’s pass. But Clemons did rack up the turnovers at Campbell, and finished his career as the fifth all-time leader in Big South turnovers.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: Why did Clemons go undrafted?

Mitchell Northam: Mid-Major Madness: I think playing at a small school like Campbell had a lot to do with that. Although, at the two Campbell games I covered this past season for Mid-Major Madness, NBA scouts were in the building. So, there were at least a few NBA teams that knew about this guy, but Clemons got seldom opportunities to show off his game against the best-of-the-best in college basketball. Campbell only played against two major conference opponents last season in Georgetown and Miami. He was great against the Hoyas, pouring in 45 points, but shot 7-of-21 from the floor against the Hurricanes. The Camels never made the NCAA tournament while Clemons was on campus either, so he missed his opportunity to have a real March moment.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What is the one thing Clemons needs to improve if he wants to succeed in the NBA?

Mitchell Northam: Mid-Major Madness: He needs to be a better passer and a better decision maker. Sometimes, when his shot isn’t falling, Clemons will keep firing until it does. That didn’t get him benched at Campbell, but it certainly will in the NBA.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: Who is his pro player comparison?

Mitchell Northam: Mid-Major Madness: Because of his size, a lot of folks want to jump to the comparison’s of Nate Robinson or Isaiah Thomas, but for me, it’s hard to nail down one player to compare him too. He has a little bit of the confidence of Dion Waiters, a high-arcing shot like Jamal Crawford, speed like Buddy Hield, and a sprinkling of the combination of fearlessness and recklessness than in-prime Derrick Rose had. When Clemons combines all of this, he can take over a game.

Jeremy Brener, The Dream Shake: What is your projection for Clemons in his rookie year and overall career?

Mitchell Northam: Mid-Major Madness: I think he’s played well enough in Summer League to earn himself a two-way contract. I think he has the potential to wreck the G-League, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a star in the NBA. His defense and passing have a long way to go and he’s going to be facing much tougher defenses than what he saw in the Big South. Still, I think Clemons can have a decent career as a heat-check guy. I think his best case scenario is being a bench guard on a playoff team someday, finally getting his postseason moment that he never got in college.