Mac McClung of the Texas Tech Red Raiders will play a college basketball game in West Virginia for the first time on Monday night and his Mountain State roots run deep.
In fact, the Big 12 Conference showdown between Texas Tech (11-4) and the West Virginia University Mountaineers (10-4) is a major happening for Mac’s myriad of aunts, uncles and cousins who reside about three hours south of Morgantown in Greenbrier County.
His parents, Marcus and Lenoir, will be among those inside the WVU Coliseum and plenty of other relatives will be watching on ESPN when the game tips off at 9 p.m.
“We wouldn’t miss it,” said Marcus McClung. “Only a few tickets are available to family, so we are lucky to get to go.”
McClung became the Virginia High School League’s all-time leading scorer and a state champion at Gate City, while his dad’s side of the family carved out success in another state.
The McClung’s lineage in what is now Greenbrier County dates back to an era before the Revolutionary War.
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Marcus McClung was a star athlete at Greenbrier East High School and later started for the football team at Virginia Tech.
Mac’s uncle, Sam, played football at Tusculum College.
Another uncle, Seth, excelled in multiple sports at Greenbrier East and pitched in 177 regular-season Major League Baseball games for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Milwaukee Brewers.
Mac’s grandfather, Mike, was an all-state football player in high school, is currently the Greenbrier County Commissioner and graduated from WVU.
Contrary to popular belief, the rapper Riff Raff is not McClung’s cousin as he has claimed to be many times on social media.
Mac McClung has also appeared on West Virginia guard Jordan McCabe’s podcast on multiple occasions.
So, this trip to Morgantown is a big deal and not just because Texas Tech and West Virginia are both ranked in the top 15.
McClung is averaging 16.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in his first season at Texas Tech after transferring from Georgetown. The 6-foot-2 junior guard is shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 81.5 percent from the free throw line.
He hit the game-winning jumper to beat Texas on Jan. 13 and three days later put up 24 points on No. 2 Baylor.
“McClung has definitely impressed me with his performance so far,” said Ryan Mainville, who covers Texas Tech for the Daily Toreador in Lubbock. “His ability to take over games and put together high-scoring performances consistently has been a huge plus for Texas Tech. He’s been making shots more efficiently than he has in the past, which I think is a big part of him being as impactful as possible. He also has seemed to buy into player patented Texas Tech defense, giving high-effort on that end of the floor. … If he can keep putting together games like these, he’ll have a great case for All-Big 12 First Team.”
McClung’s uncle who played in the big leagues has seen a kid who has always had a confident swagger emerge into one of the top scorers in NCAA hoops.
“Mac could be a little punk when he was younger,” Seth McClung said. “We’re talking about 7, 8 years old and he was talking all this trash to me about how he was going to be better than me in this and that and I’m pitching in the big leagues at the time and taking the kid to games and he’s hanging out with me everywhere I’m going.
“I remember I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘One day I want you to be far better than I ever was.’ He looked at me sort of confused and I said I wanted that younger generation of the family to pass our accomplishments. … He has that family backbone to fall back on. We believe in him and he believes in himself. We all cheer him on and love him.”
They’ll be cheering loudly and hanging on every play as McClung makes plays in Morgantown.
“I live in Florida now and it’s cool to throw it on ESPN and see Mac on TV,” Seth McClung said. “And it’s definitely special it’s going to be against the Mountaineers.”
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