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COLLEGE HOOPS: Seven schools are left in the Mac McClung sweepstakes. How would he fit in with those programs in pursuit?

COLLEGE HOOPS: Seven schools are left in the Mac McClung sweepstakes. How would he fit in with those programs in pursuit?

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Mac McClung could excel in the Atlantic Coast Conference or the American Athletic Conference.

The former Gate City High School star might be a scoring machine in the Southeastern Conference.

McClung could do big things in the Big 12 Conference.

The 6-foot-2 guard with the 48 ½-inch vertical leap might prosper in the Pac-12 Conference.

McClung could work wonders in the West Coast Conference.

One of the nation’s most coveted transfers, McClung announced Wednesday via his social media accounts that Auburn, Arkansas, Brigham Young, Wake Forest, Memphis, Texas Tech and Southern California were his potential destinations.

McClung’s post consisted of a snazzy slideshow of him in the jerseys of each of the seven schools and speculation has been running rampant where the superstar from Southwest Virginia might end up after averaging 14.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists, while shooting 39.3 percent from the field over the course of two seasons and 50 games with the Georgetown Hoyas.

McClung told ESPN last week that he would request a waiver to be eligible immediately at his new school, but it’s uncertain at this time if that will be granted.

Regardless of whether McClung is on the floor come November or sits out a season as a transfer, bloggers and beat writers who are experts on the schools McClung is considering offered insight on how McClung might fit in at his next landing spot.

ARKANSAS

Mac McClung could find a valuable mentor in Eric Musselman, who compiled a 20-12 record in his first season as head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks during the 2019-20 season.

Musselman previously spent three seasons as a head coach in the NBA, excelled at the University of Nevada and has Arkansas trending in the right direction.

“Musselman allows his players a lot of freedom in his pace-and-space offense that encourages shooting 3s,” said Richard Davenport of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “Mason Jones made a big jump from his sophomore to junior season because of playing in Musselman’s offense. He scored from 3, mid-range, while also driving to the basket on his way to being co-SEC Player of the Year.

“McClung appears to have a similar type game and I could see him excelling in an offense that plays to his strengths. Jones played the one and two [guard spots] and was at times impossible to stop in SEC play and I could see McClung doing the same. “

Arkansas averaged 75.8 points per game this past winter, fifth-best among the 13 teams in the SEC.

“[McClung] would give Muss someone that could play both guard spots and ability to score at all three levels. Ball movement is a big part of Muss’ offense and McClung’s ability to break down defenses and dish would fit in perfectly,” Davenport said. “It’s a win-win for him and his teammates at Arkansas should he become a Razorback.”

Arkansas last won the SEC regular-season title in 1994 and it’s been two decades since the Razorbacks won the league’s tournament. Could McClung help restore some of that past glory in Fayetteville?

“I could see him becoming a fan favorite because of his energy, swag and style of play,” Davenport said. “He would be coming in with Arkansas’ best recruiting class in years. The kids in the class would be sophomores the year McClung would be eligible to play again [if he doesn’t get a waiver]. He could make them better and they could help his game too.”

Point guard KK Robinson from Oak Hill Academy is among the signees from the Class of 2020 for the Razorbacks.

AUBURN

Do you think Auburn’s charismatic coach would like to land a gem in his latest recruiting class?

“I would imagine Auburn coach Bruce Pearl would love to sign Mac McClung,” said John Hicks of trackemtigers.com. “Pearl has really put a premium on picking up multiple players that can run the point. SEC teams that only have one ball-handler tend to get trapped and pressed to death.

“SEC referees rarely call fouls away from the basket, particularly on the home team. Also, Auburn lost a number of games last season due to poor free-throw shooting. McClung's 80 percent free-throw percentage stood out to me on the stat line. Pearl would love to get this guy the ball late and make the other team foul him.”

McClung’s fearlessness and energy would be a plus.

“The most obvious downside to McClung is that he is only 6-2,” Hicks said. “A lack of height hasn't stopped Pearl from signing point guards that size in the past. A couple of years ago a 5-11 point guard named Jared Harper led Auburn to the Final Four. The other question would be defense and turnovers. Flaws in either department tend to keep guards on the bench in the Pearl era at Auburn.”

If McClung were to sit out the 2020-21 season due to transfer rules, that could change the dynamic.

“If there is a downside to that, it is that Auburn needs a point guard that can play immediately after the graduation of J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty,” Hicks said. “The Auburn starter next season will almost certainly be a true freshman or transfer. It might be difficult for McClung to break into the lineup later, if a guy establishes himself at the point next season.”

BYU

The Cougars were 24-8 before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prematurely ended the college hoops season.

If McClung does get a waiver to play this season, he could fill a big role for a team with big expectations.

“McClung has the skill set that would make him an immediate impact player for BYU,” said Darnell Dickson of the Daily Herald in Utah. “The Cougars lost their point guard, T.J. Haws, to graduation and six other seniors moved on. McClung has started 49 games at Georgetown and that would make him one of the most experienced guards on the team. I think he could play a combo guard this year, while Alex Barcello plays most of the minutes at the point and then could be the point guard in 2021-22.”

Count Donovan Mitchell of the NBA’s Utah Jazz as a guy willing to share the spotlight in the Beehive State with McClung as he posted on Twitter Thursday: “Wouldn’t mind seeing him in Provo.”

“Mark Pope and his coaching staff had a really good first season in terms of developing players and team chemistry,” Dickson said. “If McClung is willing to work hard and take whatever role the coaches choose, it’s a really good match. He's from a small town and I think he would enjoy the feel of Provo.”

McClung wouldn’t be the first player from far Southwest Virginia to suit up for the Cougars.

Tyrone Brown (Abingdon) appeared in nine games and scored nine points during the 1996-97 season at BYU and also played football for the Cougars.

MEMPHIS

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway can recruit and landing a player like McClung would further prove that point as he rebuilds the program he once starred for prior to becoming a four-time NBA All-Star with the Orlando Magic.

“Anyone who put up 15 points a game for a program like Georgetown would fit in nicely with Memphis,” said Frank Murtaugh, managing editor of Memphis Magazine. “Add McClung’s ball-handling talents and he would make all the more impact. It’s a guard-heavy roster here, so McClung would have to earn minutes. Those who can score tend to earn minutes.”

Learning from Hardaway would be helpful and McClung could be the go-to guy on the perimeter.

“The Tiger program has lost Tyler Harris, a rising junior guard, who chose to transfer,” Murtaugh said. “Harris was the team's most dangerous 3-point threat last season. So there is a shooting void.”

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

McClung has gained great acclaim for his leaping ability and USC boss Andy Enfield knows something about coaching guys who play above the rim.

Florida Gulf Coast was known as “Dunk City” when he coached the Eagles and he just completed his seventh season leading the Trojans.

How could McClung help Southern Cal?

“Depends on if he is ruled eligible immediately, but next to someone like Evan Mobley, I could only see him flourishing” said Corey Evans, a college basketball expert for Rivals.com. “He needs room to operate and driving lanes to attack. All of that would be allotted at USC. He would be great out in the open floor and alongside such an elite talent, I can’t see him not having an even better year than what he showed last season.”

McClung wouldn’t be the only local player in the Pac-12 Conference either. Former Dobyns-Bennett High School star Makale Foreman announced on Thursday that he would be playing for the California Golden Bears after transferring from Stony Brook.

TEXAS TECH

Texas Tech dropped an 85-77 overtime decision to the University of Virginia in the 2019 national title game and the Red Raiders look like a program that will be hanging around the top of college basketball in the foreseeable future.

Chris Beard has won 68.1 percent of his games in his four seasons as head coach and his teams play with high intensity on the defensive end.

Where would McClung fit in the equation?

“He’s a high-scoring guard and Texas Tech is always looking for more scoring,” said Ryan Mainville of vivathematadors.com. “Despite shooting under 40 percent from both the field and 3-point range, McClung still averaged nearly 16 points per game last season. This is a Texas Tech team that’s gearing up to win a championship next year and have sustained success after that.

“McClung would likely have to sit a year due to transfer policies and he could be a good piece in the 2021 puzzle. This year could prove very important to his development as a scorer and leader. He could easily become a top-three scoring option in 2021 after his development next season.”

Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs – Texas Tech’s favorite son – took to Twitter to give his thoughts on McClung’s Twitter post: “That first jersey in red is where it’s at!! Come on and make a run at the natty in Lubbock! #GunsUp”

WAKE FOREST

Skip Brown (Dobyns-Bennett), Dan Moody (Sullivan Central) and Josh Shoemaker (Gate City) all carved out successful careers at Wake Forest and McClung could be the next local guy to follow suit at the ACC school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Steve Forbes was hired to take over the Demon Deacons after going 130-43 and winning two Southern Conference titles in five seasons at East Tennessee State.

While Forbes was at ETSU he did extend a scholarship offer to McClung between the guard’s junior and senior seasons at Gate City.

“I think McClung's prior relationship with the new coaching staff at Wake Forest can't be overstated here,” said Conor O’Neill of the Winston-Salem Journal.

How would he fit in the scheme?

“Forbes is looking to implement a five-out motion offense,” said Edward Foster of BloggerSoDear.com, which covers all things Wake Forest. “While Mac is statistically not a great 3-point shooter, he is a threat to drive and score. … [McClung] is going to require a lot of attention from opposing defenses, which should help open up the floor even more for shooters.”

McClung might possibly be the big man on campus at Wake Forest as well.

“Mac would bring a level of energy and excitement that hasn’t been present in several years and would also bring instant offense,” Foster said. “Wake fans keep mentioning his dunks as something they are fired up about. After losing top scorers Chaundee Brown, Olivier Sarr and Brandon Childress, the Deacs need an instant offense type of player and Mac seems to fit that bill perfectly. And the fact that he’s a potential NBA prospect helps bring attention to the program and should help Steve Forbes advance the rebuild in a quicker manner.”

thayes@bristolnews.com | Twitter:@Hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570

thayes@bristolnews.com | Twitter:@Hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570

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