Clemson’s Grantham is a good player, leader and teammate

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 16: Donte Grantham
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 16: Donte Grantham /

On Saturday, Clemson basketball lost one of its best players, a leader and a good teammate. 

When 6-foot-8 inch power forward Donte Grantham suffered a season ending ACL knee injury in the Tigers 67-58 victory over Notre Dame, Clemson basketball lost a skilled player, a leader and a good teammate.

Before the season, senior guard Gabe Devoe was asked about his roommate/teammate at the ACC Operation Basketball media day.

"He’s been with me the past four years. He’s been my roommate for three. A great energy guy for the team, a great voice. He’s been a starter for four years. A lot of experience. This year, I’m excited for him. He didn’t have a great year shooting the ball. Rebounding wise, I think he’s going to be a big key for us."

Devoe was prophetic and as expected, knowledgeable of his fellow senior teammate.

Grantham did struggle as a shooter last year and in fact, he wanted to put the 2016-17 season behind him by switching from jersey No. 15 to 32, the number he wore in high school.

The change seemed to work and not only did his shooting touch return, he helped the team on the boards just like Devoe predicted and averaged 6.9 rebounds per game. Despite facing bigger and stronger players at his position regularly, the slight 215 pounder, grabbed more than 10 rebounds five times this season and 14 against Boston College.

Last year, his shooting percentages were 38.3 on field goals and 32.5 on threes. Today, those numbers are 56 and 41, respectively. Grantham was always seen as a shooter with ball handling and passing skills. But this year, he became a much better rebounder, slasher to the basketball and showed better movement without the ball. All those attributes increased his scoring average from 7.7 to 14.2. He also increased his assists from 1.5 to 2.4.

After Grantham’s knee injury was confirmed to be season-ending, former South Carolina basketball player Carey Rich and current Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin expressed their thoughts on Twitter.

Even a conference member’s media outlet shared their sentiments for the Tiger’s senior.

Grantham even heard from his home state of West Virginia.

Coach Brad Brownell describes Grantham as a selfless person who cares for others more than himself and in the tweet below, he exhibits that behavior. He lobbies for support of his teammates from fans, even as he realizes that his college basketball career is over.

He is currently in the top 15 in rebounding, field goal and three-point percentage, and top 20 in scoring and blocks in the ACC. He is also the only player in the top 15 in both field goal and three-point percentages. His best game of the season included season highs of 14 rebounds and 23 points versus Boston College.

No. 18 Clemson(16-3, 5-2) will face No. 2 Virginia(18-1, 7-0) tonight without Grantham and Virginia native Aamir Simms will get his first career start. Simms, a freshman and junior David Skara will likely share the spot for the remainder of the season.

With Grantham out, Simms stepped up like a seasoned veteran, especially during the final 2:00 minutes on Saturday, when he hit a three pointer to give the Tigers a six-point lead and blocked a shot to stop a late Irish basket. In his post game interview with The Clemson Insider, he shared what Grantham told him, that helped prepare him for what happened against Notre Dame.

“Throughout the season, Donte has always told me to be ready, because you never know what’s going to happen. And that showed tonight,” Simms said. “He sadly went down and you just have to be ready for your number to be called and go out there and play hard for your team.”

Simms finished with five points, three rebounds and one block in 14 minutes. At 7:00 p.m ET, he and sophomore guard Scott Spencer, Blue Ridge High(VA) teammates, will play their first collegiate game in Charlottesville. Blue Ridge is about 35 minutes away from John Paul Jones Arena.