McClinton Enjoying First 2 Weeks of Practice

He's the guy that everyone on this team has been raving about. For his sake, hopefully his teammates aren't putting in the minds of fans unrealistic expectations of sophomore guard Jack McClinton who has been said to have a sick work ethic and an unbelievable attitude and passion for the game that players seldom have, even those that love basketball.

But still, Jack McClinton has never played one game at Miami after transferring from Siena following a stellar freshman season. By NCAA rules, he had to sit out, but while it drove him crazy at times, he prefers to look at the positive side of things.

"It was tough a year ago, but I looked at like I got a year off, I don't lose any eligibility and get the chance to learn from people in front of me, like Rob (Hite) who's about to make the (Miami) Heat and Guillermo (Diaz) who is making money overseas," McClinton said.

Now with the opportunity to play, he's looking at his hard work paying off when the ‘Canes take to the floor in a couple of weeks. But even practices excite McClinton because he didn't have the chance to play much competitive basketball beyond practice last year.

"I can't wait til practice, looking forward to scrimmages, games, everything is great now," McClinton said. "It's been going real good. We've all been playing hard. We are just trying to get better every time we get out there."

But the tales of the work that McClinton has put in over the past year trying to become a basketball player have been depicted in stories by coach Frank Haith who spoke about McClinton's late night escapades in the gym shooting jumpers until he was exhausted. Center Anthony King is another who has raved about McClinton calling him a gym rat every time he asked about him.

"In the off season, I got in the gym everyday even if I didn't have anyone to go with, I'd go by myself, one hour, two hours," McClinton said. "Just working on individual stuff, one dribble pull-ups, double-moves, so when the situation comes, it will be second nature."

McClinton though is one who prides himself on his defensive intensity together with his offensive skills. While the ‘Canes tried to play defense last season, they generally struggled defensively against teams with good guard play.

"(The biggest difference between last year and this year) Defense. I think we got quick guards and guards that want to get down and play defense. Not saying they didn't want to last year, but it wasn't really an emphasis like it is this year."

However, as good as he may be, McClinton is not expected to start when the season begins. Haith has said that he wants to have a more traditional line up with a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. That could leave McClinton coming off the bench as it's expected that Brian Asbury will more than likely by the starting small forward.

"I would say it makes a difference with rebounding, but Rob (Hite) was a great rebounder, but sometimes it will cause a match up problem where AB, Brian Asbury, will get to post up a smaller guard," McClinton said.

However, McClinton is a perfectionist and will work day in and day out until he's in that starting five which would naturally be a personal goal of any basketball player.

"I know I worked hard and know it's going to pay off so I'll just let me play do the talking," McClinton said. "I want to make every shot. I can't worry about that. I just gotta go out there and play."

Coming from South Kent Prep in Connecticut where he was a teammate of Miami Heat small forward Dorrell Wright, that's not something Haith will have to worry about. McClinton will be ready to play from the opening tip November 6th against Northwood in the squad's exhibition.

Haith can also lend some thanks to Pat Riley for drafting Wright and not sending him off to the NBDL because that was one of the reasons that McClinton chose to come to Miami following his freshman year.

"When I came down here, I felt like a part of a family on my visit," McClinton said. "Also, my friend Dorrell Wright plays for the Heat. I talk to him everyday. He's one of my best friends. If I ever need anything, I go to him and if I need to talk, he's always there for me."

Now, it's time for McClinton to showcase that hard work for the ‘Canes and be the player that everyone believes he is. Hopefully, the weight that everyone has placed on his shoulders won't be too heavy.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at

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