Friends Become Foes

Jan. 10, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Even though they communicate almost daily, today’s men’s basketball matchup between the University of Iowa and Michigan State will provide a reunion of sorts for Hawkeye freshman Anthony Clemmons and Spartan freshman Denzel Valentine.

Both players grew up in Lansing, Mich., where they were close friends and teammates at Sexton High School. The pair won three consecutive conference championships and back-to-back Class B state titles.

“It’s going to be a fun game,” said Clemmons, who is averaging 4.8 points and 4.1 assists. “It’s been awhile since I’ve played against him in live action besides one-on-one games… it should be fun.”

Clemmons believes the last time the two squared off on opposite teams was in sixth grade, competing on separate AAU teams. By the end of the year, the pair ended up together on the same AAU squad.

“It’s going to be a fun game. It’s been awhile since I’ve played against him in live action besides one-on-one games… it should be fun.”
UI freshman Anthony Clemmons

In high school, Valentine’s father, Carlton, served as Sexton’s head coach, and Clemmons spent a lot of time at the home of Carlton and Kathy Valentine. Kathy will make the trek to Iowa City for the contest.

“Kathy says it’s really emotional seeing us playing against each other after so many years playing together,” said Clemmons. “She said she is very proud of us and wished the both of us luck.

UI freshman Anthony Clemmons and MSU freshman Denzel Valentine will be on the opposite benches tonight for the first time since sixth grade.

Growing up in Lansing, Clemmons grew up rooting for the Spartans, sporting his green and white apparel.

“I grew up going to games with Denzel and his father,” he said. “Now I am going against them. My family was never Michigan fans, and who knew I was going to end up in Iowa. Now they’re big Hawkeye fans, and they’re going to be rooting for me and him, too.”

When he’s back home, Clemmons hears about the matchup all the time. Now it’s finally here.

“Everyone asks, ‘When are you guys playing Michigan State? When are you coming to the Breslin?'” said Clemmons. “It should be a fun game. It’s always fun when you get to see some guys you were really close with and get to play against them.”

Clemmons was a late signee for UI head coach Fran McCaffery, and he didn’t receive a scholarship offer from Michigan State and head coach Tom Izzo. That doesn’t provide him any extra motivation heading into the game.

“I knew at the time they had Keith Appling and Travis Trice,” Clemmons said of his recruitment. “They had a bunch of guards there. Even if they did offer me, I would have taken that into consideration. I’d look at my playing time and how I would fit.”

Clemmons loves the decision he made to become a Hawkeye, and his family does, too.

“They love this place just like I love it,” he said. “It’s far from home, and it’s good to get away from home. It’s a new place, I am comfortable here, my family likes it here, and I like it here.”

Game time is set for 6:02 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on ESPN2 with Joe Tessitore and Sean Farnham calling the action. Fans are encouraged to wear white to “White Out” Carver-Hawkeye Arena.