Big Man Ready to Help Bearcats

Anthony McClain may have been the busiest Bearcat during Friday's media day for the Bearcat basketball team. The 7 footer had media standing in line for interviews.

The Cincinnati basketball program has a legitimate 7 footer even though most programs list him at 6' 11".  Anthony McClain from Fort Washington, Maryland will certainly help Mick Cronin compete in the BIG EAST Conference which is appropriately named in basketball since all sixteen schools have multiple players listed at 6' 9" or taller.


For the past two seasons, the Bearcats have struggled to match-up inside by having to use players standing in the 6' 6" to 6' 8" range, but the player his teammates call "Biggie" will not be as overmatched, at least in height.


McClain explained how he became a much needed addition to the Bearcat basketball program.  "When I took my visit, I just fell in love with the place.  The players seemed cool, and I made my decision on that."


The deep-voiced big man confirmed his membership in the 7 foot club.  "I get a lot of people saying I'm only 6' 11", but I'm really 7 foot."  McClain said he tips the scales at 250 pounds.


Coach Cronin and his staff beat out two other league members for McClain's services.  His final three were Cincinnati, Georgetown and Connecticut.  Anthony said he wanted to play in the BIG EAST Conference so he could compete against the myriad of quality big men.  "I just wanted to play in the Big East with all the good big men.  That's what I want to become."


The Bearcats were certainly not the favorite to land McClain through much of his recruitment.  Anthony said he originally thought he'd stay closer to home.  "I was always at Georgetown.  That was my #1 school, but as things went on, I started to go the other way.  Next I started looking at UConn, but I ended up here."


The tall freshman may measure 7 feet, but he knows he has a lot to learn.  "I need to work on a little bit of everything both offensively and defensively.  I need to post hard and box out.  You name it.  That's what I need to work on."


Many big men need more time to refine their game because they grow so quickly.  McClain remembers his biggest growth spurt.  "From my eight grade year to entering ninth grade, I went from 6 foot to 6' 8"."


While most players love to score, Anthony gave a wry smile and had no trouble identifying his favorite part of playing basketball.  "I love to block shots.  That's what I learned to do first."


Every college coach is looking for athletic big men, and the tallest Bearcat admitted that the recruiting process got very difficult when trying to choose a destination.  "My senior year was hard because there were so many schools interested in me and a lot of big names.  Coach Calhoun came down to see me, and it was a hard process.  I just knew I wanted to be in the BIG EAST."


Deciding to be in the BIG EAST Conference was expected, but joining a team that was only 11-19 last season was a bit of surprise, even to McClain.  "I always thought I'd be at a winning school, but I'm going to start at the bottom and work my way up to the top."


Before coming to the Queen City, McClain had heard only one thing.  "I knew it was the chili state, but I don't mess with it.  Being from the east coast, I stick with my hoagies and cheese steaks.  I have to put on some weight so I eat as much as I can."


The NBA is always looking for quality big men and very few of the good ones stay in college all four years.  McClain gave his take on the subject.  "I just leave it in God's hands.  If he wants me to leave after this year, I'll leave after this year.  Time will tell."


Having a 6' 10" senior like Adam Hrycaniuk to face in open gyms throughout the late summer and early fall has presented Anthony with a chance to improve.  "I'm getting better.  At first it was a challenge, but I'm getting better little by little.  I think by next year, I could give him some problems, but he'll be leaving anyway.  He's just going to make me better and get me prepared for the BIG EAST faster."  Hyrcaniuk has been serving as Anthony's mentor.  "He talks to me a lot.  If I don't post up on him real hard, he'll let me know what I'm doing wrong."


As the big guy looks down the Bearcat schedule, there are a couple games that stick out.  "Georgetown always.  I went to school up there and know those guys.  I would put Memphis in there too.  I went to schools with one of their guys (Jeff Robinson)."


When asked about his new head coach, McClain replied, "Little guy with a big temper.  He's a good coach, and I can't wait to play for him.  These four years are going to be the best years of my life basketballwise."


If the 7 footer stays all four years as he indicated, it could also be the best four years for Bearcat basketball fans.

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