If talent were a person, that person would be Jack McClinton.
Gazing into the eyes of his opponent, McClinton prepares to deliver the other team their fate. As he hunches over in a stance of both eagerness and pure athletic poise, the crowd feels restless with anticipation. McClinton jumps up and sends the ball soaring into the basket – nothing but net. Then, McClinton turns around and beats on the trunk of his body, just like King Kong would do.
This is the game at its best, but for McClinton it’s just another day.
Before McClinton was even born, he knew basketball would be the love of his life; the ball would be his companion.
“Since I was in my mom’s stomach I was playing ball,” a confident McClinton said. “When I finally got out, my father stepped in. Since day one, he put a ball into my hands.”
So, McClinton played. No matter where he was, he played.
McClinton remembers that a highlight of his childhood was when he was 6 years old and made a half court shot. The referees didn’t count the basket, as there was no time remaining in the half, but McClinton was ecstatic about making the shot. He went home and told family and friends what he had done. McClinton could not wait until his game would develop even more.
McClinton spent the majority of his life in Baltimore, Md. As he got older, he started to experience the other side of basketball, the physical play. Playing at local parks, McClinton picked up the street game and, even more importantly, built his character.
“I always played summer league basketball in the inner city,” McClinton said. “That made me a tougher person. When you go out there, it’s no holds barred. You’ve got to play hard. Nothing is ever given to you. That’s what made me as tough as I am right now.”
Despite the many ups, things were not always easy for McClinton. Standing at 6 feet, he wasn’t blessed with the height of a basketball player.
“I was always smaller than everybody,” McClinton said. “Whenever we had summer league games, I would be picked last. That was something else that motivated [me] to keep working hard. No matter how tall I am, it’s all about heart.”
Today, McClinton’s hard work and dedication is quite evident. He eats jumps shots and drinks free throws. In his first season as a Miami Hurricane, McClinton broke school records for 3-pointers made in a season, with 91, and free throw percentage, shooting 89.5 percent. He did this while leading the Canes in scoring with 16.7 per game.
In his second season he was selected for the All-ACC First Team. More importantly, he led the Hurricanes to the NCAA tournament.
In the first round against Saint Mary’s, McClinton scored a career-high 38 points, impressive for a young man that didn’t get recruited from any division one colleges.
“Coming out of high school, I didn’t have any D-I offers,” McClinton said. “That really made me work hard. I always worked hard to get into a position that I am at right now.”
It is this hard work and dedication to basketball that has allowed McClinton to earn the respect of his teammates.
“Jack is the man,” teammate Lance Hurdle said. “We follow him no matter what. He has done so much for this team. For him to transfer from Siena to here and help built this program back up is impressive. He has been like that since day one.”
It is these leadership skills and McClinton’s hard work that the guard constantly keeps with him
“I want to be one of the hardest workers to ever play at the University of Miami,” McClinton said. “I live by [the motto]: ‘No pain no fame.’ I keep that quote in my head everyday.”
The Hurricanes will look to have their leader carry them even farther in the NCAA tournament this year, as the team looks to follow Jack to the Promised Land.