P.J. Hall went for a walk in the mountains.
That’s your good-news summer update on the injured foot of Clemson basketball’s top player. He’s out of his protective boot, maybe even traded that in for a pair of hiking boots, and he’s back on the court. Hall, a junior from Spartanburg and Dorman High, will be able to play when the Tigers take their trip to France in August.
It’s almost difficult to imagine how good Hall could be with two good feet. Playing with a fracture that went undiscovered until the end of the season, Hall ranked 11th in the ACC in scoring (15.5 points) and ninth in blocked shots (38) with 5.8 rebounds per game, 48 assists and 16 steals. A healthy Hall could be ACC player of the year as the Tigers look to improve on their 17-16 record, 8-12 in league play.
He was in pain from the first few games of last season. By December, he couldn’t practice, although nobody was sure exactly what was going on. Clemson coach Brad Brownell kept calling it a “hot spot.” Hall sat out three of the regular season’s last four games.
Finally, a fracture was found in the fourth metatarsal, one of the long bones, in his left foot. With surgery scheduled for the end of March, there was one thing to do beforehand.
“Get some workouts in,” he said. “I knew I was going to be kind of locked-up and jailed-up for a while.”
Hall said the first sign of any trouble with that foot was actually back at Dorman, but it didn’t seem like anything to worry about.
“I had a small problem with it in high school,” Hall said. “I wasn’t a big deal. I just put on a boot for two weeks and then I never had another problem with it.
“Around the first part of (last) season, the first few games, it was a little sore. But I’m 6-10 with a size 17 shoe. It was like, ‘My feet are sore.’ It progressively got worse. It was getting pretty sore. And then in the Drake game (Dec. 11), it was killing me. I landed on it funny in overtime and, luckily, we were up 10 or something like that and I was able to come out of the game with 40 seconds left.”
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On Feb. 19 at Louisville, Hall came off the floor moments after the opening tip and missed the next three games.
“I was like, ‘No, there’s a fracture in there. There’s got to be,’ ” Hall said. “And so, I kind of figured it out at that point.”
Hall returned for the regular-season finale, a win against Virginia Tech, and played in the ACC Tournament, a win against N.C. State and an overtime loss to eventual champion Virginia Tech on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. In the latter, he had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. Brownell said Hall would not have been able to play in a third straight day.
“His performance down the stretch was big-time,” Brownell said. “We went to him and he delivered on multiple occasions. Certainly, he showed why he is a great player. He was able to make big shots, big scores, under duress in the biggest time of the year.
“I’m really proud of him. He’s been showing a lot of fight all year. We’ve seen that. It doesn’t surprise me in the least. …Tremendous character and toughness.”
Todd Shanesy covers Clemson athletics for the USA Today network.