Some interesting news broke yesterday as we shared that University of Central Florida’s Keith Clanton planned to transfer, and was considering UK and Florida State. With Julius Mays and Ryan Harrow on board, would Cal be willing to add a third transfer? After looking at how he could benefit the Wildcats, he’s definitely worth a look, at the very least.
As mentioned yesterday, Clanton would be able to play immediately due to UCF’s current, ahem, penalized situation. That gives Cal plenty of motivation to go out and add the big guy to the roster; we had to wait a year for Harrow, we wouldn’t have to wait a game for Keith. But because he’s immediately available, he’d add a fourth body to the frontcourt, and especially add depth at the power forward position. Currently, Nerlens Noel and WCS play more like 5s, at least in the college game. Expect to see them hover around the rim, blocking shots and generally wreaking havoc. Unless one of them has a killer jumper that we don’t know about, don’t plan on seeing them get too far outside the paint offensively. Cal’s mentioned playing them both together, but that might not happen as frequently as we suspect. Conversely, Kyle Wiltjer plays almost exactly opposite. A smooth shooter and scorer when he’s not crowded, Wiltjer will see plenty of time on the wing, spacing the floor for penetrators and catching kicked out passes for open looks.
One of the good things about Clanton is that his game is slightly more versatile than those three. He can certainly be a banger inside, at 6’9″, 245 lbs., but he also shot 34% last season from three, on 3.5 attempts per game. Is that life-altering? Well, no. Certainly Kyle does that better. But it’s a touch of the unexpected for an otherwise scripted frontcourt. His FT% is about what you’d expect from a big man not named Wiltjer at 59% (it got as high as 68% his sophomore year), but his blocks, rebounds, FG%, and points per game all look pretty good. As Drew mentioned, he was UCF’s leading shot-blocker, and playing a few minutes with him and Nerlens on the floor would certainly give opposing teams flashbacks to this past year. While Clanton doesn’t necessarily do one thing phenomenally, he does a lot of things very well. That’s a perfect spot for a 6th or 7th man, because there are multiple positions he can sub in for in the rotation.
The best thing about Clanton, though, is that he is going into his senior year. And that’s not just great because the team could use more veterans, it’s great because that means we’ll have plenty of scholarships available for 2013. That sounds callous, but it’s really not. The top group in next year’s class is being hailed as the best since 2007, and if Wiggins decides to reclassify, you can move that date back a few years. With 75% of them interested in Kentucky, Coach Cal needs every scholarship he can get. Talented transfer players like Julius Mays, and Clanton should he pick UK, give us exactly what we need: capable players that can help us win now, but still leave a lot of flexibility for next year. As Cal plans ahead, and is looking at the inevitable logjam at the scholarship line with the 2013 group, that Clanton has just a year before getting his degree has to be a very big positive.
So who knows what Clanton will decide; it may be easier for him to stay close by and attend Florida State. But should he want to play for, and help the title chances of the Wildcats, I think we’d really be glad to have him. We know Cal likes a small rotation in the spring, but having depth during the early part of the season will help the team grow and find its strengths without floundering a whole lot out of the gate. Clanton has the potential to be a great asset to this team, with no apparent downside. Count me among those ready to see him in Blue.