Tough times and tough love

Wildcat fans have been waiting with baited breath to find out if Jawann McClellan will be allowed to rejoin the team. Now barring an unforeseen shocker, the sophomore wing should be in uniform on Thursday against Oregon State.

"I know everything is finalized, we just have to wait for everything to get posted and go from there," McClellan said. "It is a big relief to get out there and finally help my teammates. "Coach O" has been talking about me this and this. It sounds nice, but I want to get out there and prove to the fans and everybody how much I have improved.

"Even though it is a big relief I can't slip up. I learned from that."

McClellan became academically ineligible over the summer when he slipped up after the death of his father. McClellan admitted at the time that he had just dropped the ball while dealing with the grief of his father's passing.

It seemed as if he had learned his lesson over the summer, but McClellan admits that he did not do everything he could during the fall semester to get back on track.

It got so bad that Lute Olson actually suspended McClellan for a week. It was a time that could either make or break the youngster.

"Two months ago everybody was saying I was ‘The Golden Child' and that Coach O loves me, (then) he called me and suspended me from the team and told me not to come to practice and he didn't want me around McKale," McClellan explained. "That made me realize he was doing this to help me and make sure I got my work done."

It took McClellan a few extra weeks to get his academics in order. Originally it looked as if he was going to get eligible at the conclusion of the fall semester and play against Utah. Unfortunately, McClellan needed one more class in the winter session to boost up his GPA.

In the end it was not the residual grief or the difficulty of the material that had McClellan struggling in the fall semester. No, McClellan admits that it was his own fault that he needed the extra session to gain his eligibility.

"I was not struggling in class, it was getting up and going to class which was the problem," McClellan admitted.

Although fans are already trying to figure out how much he will play and how much of an impact he will have, don't expect the talented sophomore to knock a current player out of a starting spot.

"We expect him to be coming off the bench until he gets game ready," Lute Olson stressed. "He will give us another experienced player. He has done a tremendous amount of conditioning. He will give us a perimeter shooter and a rebounder. Defensively that will probably be his biggest adjustment."

Although it has been a rough several months, McClellan has emerged as a more focused, stronger individual.

"Just being on the court makes you realize how important it is to me and my family," McClellan said. "I have changed. I am a changed man. I still joke around, but I am serious when it comes to academics. You never know what can happen."

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