Today……the decision was made.
The one time Georgetown Hoya, who surprisingly entered the transfer portal a couple weeks ago, made his destination known today after courting seven potential suitors.
Of the seven potential suitors (USC, BYU, Auburn, Wake Forest, Texas Tech, Memphis, Arkansas)), Mac McClung had some strong programs with proven coaches to choose from.
In the end, it was Chris Beard and the Texas Tech Red Raiders who won out. If the thought of seeing McClung in a Red Raider uniform surprises you, I have to admit in some ways it does me as well. Then again, in other ways, it makes all the sense in the world.
When thinking of who might be the best fit for Mac and his services, I had places like Auburn and Bruce Pearl, Wake Forest and Steve Forbes or possibly Memphis and Penny Hardaway in mind. Mostly because these coaches have had NCAA Tournament experience and were building strong programs where they were located……which wasn’t far from his home.
Hearing of his choice of Chris Beard, Texas Tech and the Red Raiders, I was surprised of the choice but after thinking about it….. it does, in all actuality, makes all the sense in the world.
Texas Tech, under Chris Beard, has become quite the powerhouse of late in the Big 12…… recently being the National Runnerup of the NCAA National Basketball Tournament in 2019. The Red Raiders have become one of the most feared teams to face mostly because of the passion and pride they take in their defense and because of the development of the players under the watch of Chris Beard.
Under Beard’s tutelage, Jarrett Culver was once the 312th ranked recruit in his class coming out of high school. Now he is averaging 18.9 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game and has all the NBA scouts salivating over him. Zhaire Smith, who was once a middle of the run three star prospect, averaged 11.3 points per game on 55.6 percent shooting in one year with Chris Beard, and wound up becoming a Philadelphia 76er on draft night.
Let’s admit it. Mac has made his intentions known of wanting to tear down all the barriers and be the one guy who makes it to the NBA. Not just for himself, but for all the people who ever doubted him or said that he couldn’t do it. And really……. for a guy to leave a program like Georgetown University led by a former NBA Hall of Famer in Patrick Ewing….. you would think that it might be the worst choice in the world. Yet, the Hoyas have yet to crack an NCAA Tournament bid and have encountered all kinds of team drama over the past few years.
Then you have Chris Beard. A guy with much less of a pedigree coming into the coaching profession. He made stops as the coach of community college teams in Kansas and Oklahoma. He has coached a NCAA Division II and III in Texas before being hired as the head coach at NCAA Division I Texas Tech. And what did he do at all of these places, he won. He just simply flat out won….. and took the unknown Red Raiders to the NCAA title game at that against the Cavaliers of Virginia.
So why would Mac McClung choose Texas Tech over all the others? I was around Mac in the basketball world of small town Gate City, Virginia for over seven years. When I think about why he chose Texas Tech, it really makes perfect sense to me.
Mac wants to be in a place where his goals are the same goals of the people around him.
Mac wants to be challenged and wants to be made better. I have all the respect in the world for Patrick Ewing and believe he his one of the best in the business. He has seen it all and done it all. But there is one difference in Patrick Ewing and Chris Beard. Patrick Ewing has been at basketball’s ultimate level. He has played for NBA Championships, played for NCAA Championships and been at the top of everything involved in basketball. Chris Beard has always strived to be where Ewing wanted to be……a head coach at a major program and wanting to be crowned the champion there.
Sometimes we have goals in life and we find the quickest way to reach them to get there. What better way to complete our goals than to try and get there with someone who has been there.
Then again, sometimes to get to our goal, it may be our best path to reach a goal with someone who has the same goals and the same drive to get there. It is obvious that Chris Beard’s passion and drive is the same as what Mac McClung is wanting out of himself.
People may say Mac isn’t great defensively but honestly maybe Mac craved getting back to a style of practice he had become accustomed to. Gate City HS could be known as the Texas Tech of the State of Virginia in basketball. Yes the offense has been very productive with three consecutive 2000 plus point scorers in three consecutive years. But the facts are this…. the Gate City High School boys basketball program…..a small high school tucked away in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, has been to over 10 state tournaments in 20 years time on a reputation of its passionate defense led by its coach Scott Vermillion.
The Red Raiders also play with this passion on defense as they have a defensive drill called The Kill Drill devised by Coach Mark Adams in which the defensive team on the floor has to play great defense for 90 seconds or have three perfect stops before they leave. Any screw ups such as no talking, no stance, etc and the drill starts over as does the clock. Trust me…. as a coach at Gate City HS…. Mac is just going back to his roots. Mac craves challenges. Daily challenges to his body and his mentality.
So yes…… it may be seem strange that Mac would choose the Red Raiders but for myself…… a former coach of his at Gate City High School where winning and passionate defense is the norm, the choice seems to be an easy one.
Mac McClung has a goal. Mac wants to win. Mac McClung is a winner and wants to be apart of a winner. Mac also has dreams of reaching basketball’s highest level. And if he feels that Chris Beard and the Texas Tech Red Raiders are the way to reach those goals?
Then once again….. I wouldn’t doubt him one bit.