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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Catching up with Jawann McClellan

    Former UA guard Jawann McClellan shoots from the corner during a 64-59 overtime loss to ASU in Tempe on Jan. 9, 2008. McClellan hope to coach at the Division I level.
    Former UA guard Jawann McClellan shoots from the corner during a 64-59 overtime loss to ASU in Tempe on Jan. 9, 2008. McClellan hope to coach at the Division I level.

    Editor’s note: The Arizona Daily Wildcat’s senior writer Lance Madden recently caught up with former UA basketball player Jawann McClellan, who is back in Tucson finishing his bachelor’s degree in religious studies. McClellan discussed his professional stint in Europe, his hopes to coach at the Division I level, and his predictions about where Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger will be drafted on Thursday.

    DW: You went to Europe to play professionally and then had a gloomy visit with your doctor. What happened there?
    JW: I played through a lot of pain, but I thought I just hyper-extended my knee. I went in to get examined, and they took X-rays and an MRI. The doctor walked in and his first reaction was like, “”To be honest with you, Jawann, you need to get your knees cleaned out. You’ve got bone spurs everywhere. In about two or three more years, you’re going to have serious trouble.”” So I decided that I was just going to stop playing, as hard as it was for me. But at the same time, I felt like it was good for me, because I feel like I’ve always been a good leader, and it’s a good opportunity to get into coaching. I’ve been there, and I can help people get to where they want to be.

    DW: What was that experience like, moving to another country and getting paid to play professional basketball?
    JW: It was a real good experience. It was different, but it was good. You get paid to do what you love to do, and you can’t beat that. Everybody that has a job doesn’t necessarily like their job, no matter what your income is. It is the life, I must say. But it wasn’t in God’s plans.

    DW: How did Arizona help you get set up for professional basketball?
    JW: I think Arizona helped me a lot. I saw two different aspects of the game, as far as offense and defense are concerned. I played more offense with Lute Olson for three years. My last year I played for Kevin O’Neill, a defensive-minded coach. They both taught me a lot about the game. Because of my knees, I couldn’t do some of the offensive stuff my senior year, so Kevin O’Neill taught me how to become a lock-down defender and it really helped me get a lot of looks. That’s how the 76ers picked me up, because they knew I was a tough kid.

    DW: What’s the next step to get into coaching?
    JW: I want to start off as a Division I coach as a graduate assistant or something like that, just getting my foot in the door. My goal now is to be one of the best coaches to have ever coached the game. I think it’s a legitimate goal. I have a lot of connections, I know I can legitimately recruit. We’ll see where it goes?

    DW: Who have you talked to about it?
    JW: I’ve contacted a lot of people about it. I have a lot of options, but nothing is set yet.

    DW: How do you market yourself?
    JW: Everybody that I’ve called, I either knew from the past or I played for. My name is still out there. I don’t have to tell people where I went to school or who I played for. The timing is right. But you still have to tell people what you can bring to their program. You have to sell yourself.

    DW: You’ve got a few buddies, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger, who are going to be drafted this week. Give me your predictions.
    JW: (Laughs) I will say Jordan will go anywhere from No. 6 to No. 10. If he doesn’t go No. 6 to Minnesota, he will got No. 8 to the Knicks, depending on whether they want a point guard or him. And Chase, it’s up in the air. I hear a lot of teams like him. He just has to show people he’s tough. I would say Chase will go anywhere from 18 to 25.

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