Injured Clemson forward's presence motivates teammates in prepar - KCTV5 News

Injured Clemson forward's presence motivates teammates in preparation for KU

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(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Clemson forward Donte Grantham sustained an ACL injury in January, but his presence alone is helping motivate his Tigers teammates as they approach a showdown with the Kansas Jayhawks. 

Grantham was one of Clemson's leading scorers and arguably its best player when he was hurt. 

Big man Elijah Thomas wore Grantham's jersey number during practice on Thursday. 

"He was my best friend on the court before he got injured," Thomas said. "He still is and he's still coaching me and giving me tips every time I come to the bench. For me, it reminds me to step my leadership levels up on the court."

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell is looking to lead the Tigers to their first Elite Eight since 1980. This year's trip to the Sweet 16 is just the fourth in program history. 

He said Grantham's presence will be missing, but said he's been a leader even without being on the court.

"My heart hurts that he can't play in this game because all he has wanted to do all season is get this team to the NCAA Tournament," he said. "Our team is not where it is right now without him just being around our team every day."

Grantham called Thomas' move to wear his jersey "an honor." 

"To know that I made an impact on his life enough for him to do that means a lot," Grantham said. "For him to honor me and put the jersey on, even though I can't play anymore, it means a lot."

The game tips around 6:07 p.m. on Friday night. 

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