Depending on how charitable you’re feeling, you might think Campbell University senior point guard Chris Clemons is an unholy cross between Isaiah Thomas and James Harden, or just a North Carolina novelty act piling up impressive stats on the fringes of D-I basketball. Playing for a Big South team that isn’t even the best in its conference, Clemons’s 29.8 points per game have made him the top scorer in college hoops this year, after he was in the top five in both his sophomore and junior years. Oh and also, Clemons stands at a bite-size 5-foot-9, making him smaller than about 99 percent of his opponents. It’s confusing and weird and it’s not really getting him noticed by NBA scouts, but it can be very fun to watch.
Clemons notched a season-high 48 points in his game Wednesday night—a nail-biter 87-84 win for Campbell over Hampton—passing both Danny Manning and Oscar Robertson to hit ninth on the all-time college basketball points leaderboard. He’s accomplished this by basically scoring nonstop as the Camels’ main weapon since he was a freshman, culminating in a senior year where he’s been relied upon for a mind-boggling portion of the team’s offense.
According to Kenpom, Clemons plays 92.7 percent of Campbell’s possible minutes, uses 37 percent of their possessions, and takes 38.4 percent of their shots. Clemons’s 473 field goal attempts tops everyone in the nation aside from Detroit freshman point guard Antoine Davis, who appears to be Clemons’s worthy successor as a mid-major scoring machine. Yet despite the heavy load, Clemons’s efficiency has never been higher. His true shooting percentage is 61.3, which ranks him a very respectable 162nd in college basketball. Clemons is also hitting 83.8 percent of his free throws, all of which he takes while aligned to the right, because he used to miss too many to the left:
Clemons is a versatile scorer both inside and out, but his most consistent weapon is these high-arcing threes that he can seemingly get off at will over taller defenders, whether on the catch or after a number of dribbles. Here’s a particularly wacky example of how hard it is to limit his abilities, from the Hampton game last night:
He’s proven he can sometimes score against approximations of actual athletes, too. While Miami (Fla.) held Clemons to just 19 points when they beat Campbell back in December, Clemons had better individual luck in his match-up with Georgetown, where he scored 45 and made nine threes in a 93-85 loss. This nifty crossover and drive to the basket just shreds a legitimately decent Big East defense:
By the way, Clemons also has a 44-inch vertical and can very much dunk on the regular, which is frickin’ sweet.
Depending on how many more games Campbell can get out of Clemons’s career—five more in the regular season, and likely two or three in the conference tournament—their point guard looks primed to keep skyrocketing up the all-time points list. With 2,978 points so far and only 271 separating him from second place, there are plenty more milestones left to pass. The one thing he probably wants way more, however, is an NCAA Tournament appearance, which Campbell has only pulled off once, as a 16-seed in 1992. Even with Clemons’s talents, Radford is still the favorite to represent the Big South. But before he goes to the D-League or Europe or wherever they have need for tremendously undersized dudes who can shoot, it would be absolutely awesome to see Chris Clemons going up against giants in the Big Dance.