Clemmons caps off successful summer

BY MATT CABEL | JULY 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s been quite a summer for Iowa guard Anthony Clemmons.

He’s now a two-time Prime Time League champion. He was named co-MVP of the summer league alongside fellow Hawkeye Jarrod Uthoff. He averaged 24.1 points in the league while shooting 55 percent from beyond the arc.

And he’s got his confidence back. The sophomore was all smiles after every game. He joked. He spoke with a calm, smooth attitude. He’s concerned with being comfortable and consistent with his game — and so far into the summer, he’s done just that.

“I got a big crown on my head,” Clemmons said Sunday to put the punctuation mark on his summer.

All traits are redolent of an upperclassman. Not a player who went through a late-season slump against Big Ten competition after a brief stint in the starting lineup.

Throughout the summer, he faced formidable matchups against his Iowa teammates on both ends of the floor, guarding the likes of Devyn Marble, Mike Gesell, and incoming freshman Peter Jok.

“I get after him, get up into him,” Gesell said in June about guarding Clemmons in the Prime Time League. “I try to make him uncomfortable. Just like any other guard in the Big Ten, you just have to work your butt off and try to outwork him.”

And Clemmons triumphed in each of these matchups. He and his summer-league team lost just once in the regular season, against Gabe Olaseni and Zach McCabe’s team. Clemmons was one of the top scoring guards in the league.

But it wasn’t just the Prime Time that improved Clemmons’ game. He’s increased his strength during summer conditioning. He’s practiced into the early hours of the morning with Marble and other teammates, sometimes putting up more than 1,000 shots in one night.

“The thing I like about this group of guys is that we’re all self-motivated,” Marble said on July 7. “Guys get into the gym and do their own thing — you don’t have to get on guys about not going to the gym. As a team, we’re pretty self-motivated — we know what needs to be done.”

And now, with Gesell out for four to six weeks with a broken hand and an upcoming trip to Europe for exhibition games looming, Clemmons’ time in the spotlight could be just beginning. But he’s ready to embrace the next-man-in mentality.

“Whenever you hear that one of our guys gets an injury, it’s never a proud moment,” Clemmons said. “But it happens to a lot of people, a lot of teams. One of us has to step up and take control, because Mike is out. That gives me a better opportunity to come in and strive to be a leader.”

He’ll keep working and putting forth the effort to become the best basketball player he can be, no matter where Clemmons’ progression takes him and whatever hurdles he may face. And judging that progression will be the toughest judge of them all: himself.

“I’m getting there,” Clemmons said on Sunday. “I’m working at it. It starts here with the Prime Time League, starts with the workouts, individual practice and us going to Europe. I can be the judge of [my progress] once things get moving.”

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