For casual Miami basketball fans, the name Jack McClinton may not be a familiar one. In fact, it wasn’t too familiar to the Atlantic Coast Conference earlier this season, when his name was left off Miami’s roster in the ACC’s 2006 media guide. However, the Sienna transfer has turned heads in the ACC and beyond.
McClinton was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He played high school ball at Calvert Hall College, a prestigious school known for producing the University of Maryland’s 2002 ACC Player of the Year Juan Dixon.
Calvert Hall’s head coach, Mark Amatucci, still remembers what he felt separated McClinton from other players.
“He just flat-out can score, and he is a constant worker in the gym,” Amatucci said. “He buys into the fact that the longer you work in the gym, at your game, the better you’re going to get.”
Despite the objections of some, McClinton strove to play at a Division-I level, so he took his game to a prep school. He attended South Kent School, located in Connecticut, where current Miami Heat forward Dorell Wright also played. McClinton and Wright’s time together led to a friendship which would ultimately play a part in McClinton’s move.
After South Kent, McClinton got a scholarship to Sienna College, located in upstate New York. A key part of his decision was the style of play used by Head Coach Rob Lanier. However, after only one year at Sienna, Lanier was fired, and McClinton was left looking for another option. The best fit appeared to be in the South, far away from where he had lived all his life. The voice calling him was that of Miami’s Head Coach Frank Haith.
“Coach Haith and Coach Lanier coached together at Texas, and I heard they were similar coaches. That’s part of the reason why I went to Sienna, because of Lanier,” McClinton said. “Once I heard they were similar coaches, I knew it would be a better fit.”
McClinton made the move, but due to NCAA rules, had to sit out a year. Without playing competitively, how could he avoid losing some of his skill? He went back to what he knew would maintain his game: the gym.
“I’d call him at 10 o’clock at night, and he’d be out of breath,” Haith said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. “I’d say, ‘Jack, what are you doing?’ He had worked a deal with a guy at the gym, so he could work on his game late at night. That’s the kind of kid he is.”
McClinton’s work has once again paid off and led to outstanding performances. With 16 points per game, he’s Miami’s top scorer. In his attempt to fill the shoes and 33.6 points per game of departed guards Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite, he is once again turning heads.
“Jack has made himself a player, and I think it’s extraordinary that he is where he is at this point,” Amatucci said. “That’s his greatest attribute; he gets something in his head, and he’s going to keep working at it.”
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.