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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    NY yields new McClellan

    After being infected with on- and off-the-court issues for the past three years, UA guard Jawann McClellan traveled to New York for a new start this summer – and it was all business.

    Working out in

    Jawann McClellan has said he can walk after games, which was not the case last year, and that his knees feel healthy, a sharp contrast to last
    season, when he often had to take practices off and struggled mightily in the second half after a strong first half. Here’s the top five reasons the Wildcats need his health to continue:

    He’s the only upperclassman projected to start

    He’s the emotional leader of the team

    He averaged 11.1 points in wins and 7.0 in losses last year

    His toughness has never been questioned on squads often tabbed as soft

    After a tough-luck career at Arizona, he deserves something to go right

    Binghamton, Westchester and the Bronx, the summer was a time of rebuilding, mentally and physically, for the senior whose life as a college athlete has been all but easy.

    McClellan’s career as a Wildcat has been disturbed by ankle, knee and wrist injuries – the latter two involving surgeries. His cousin has faced murder charges. His Houston home was flooded by Hurricane Rita. His father and best friend, George, passed away in 2005 at age 55.

    What’s more, McClellan failed a summer math class because he left to attend his father’s funeral, causing him to be academically ineligible for the fall of his sophomore year, when he played in only two games before suffering the wrist injury.

    “”Going to New York was a great experience,”” McClellan said. “”I didn’t want to go back home and get distracted with family and friends. I’ll always be able to go back home. I wanted to do something to get me ready for this year and to help me grow as a man.””

    McClellan, 21, shed about 10 pounds from his 6-foot-4, 213-pound frame by eating more chicken and fruit, along with copious amounts of water, he said.

    Robert Baxter of the BX Player Development Group in New York, who has worked with former Wildcats Mustafa Shakur and Ivan Radenovic, served as McClellan’s mentor for five weeks. North Carolina guard Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson from Duke also participated in Baxter’s program.

    McClellan trained with Mark Chasanoff, who works with USA Olympic Lifting and helped NBA star Kobe Bryant re-strengthen his knee after arthroscopic surgery.

    “”Jawann’s been working hard,”” said forward

    Jordan Hill. “”He’s been doing everything he can to stay healthy and get back on the court.””

    McClellan left for New York in early July. He participated in workouts that consisted of dribbling tennis balls and basketballs, and shooting – along with a lot of weight-lifting and knee-strengthening exercises.

    “”He’s a tough kid,”” said UA head coach Lute Olson. “”There ain’t anything he’ll back out from. You could see that when I had exit interviews last year at the end of the basketball season, just to talk about that year and what was needed by that person. He knows how important his leadership is.””

    As one of four seniors on the roster, McClellan said he sees himself as a leader.

    “”I wasn’t just doing this for me,”” he said, “”but it was in the team’s best interest for me to get ready for the upcoming season.””

    McClellan said his health is not an issue and that he has already used a mindset of “”show, not tell”” to prove himself.

    “”I think now I can silence the questions about my health,”” he said after Nov. 4’s exhibition game against Concordia, in which he scored 13 points and pulled down six rebounds in 38 minutes. “”Maybe later on down the line, when I get through 15 games, people will let it go. I’m tired of being asked how I feel. I feel good.””

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