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    McClellan to play in Belgium

    Jawann McClellan stares down forward Quincy Pondexter in an 84-69 win over Washington in McKale Center on Jan. 26. McClellan will play professionally in Belgium next season.
    Jawann McClellan stares down forward Quincy Pondexter in an 84-69 win over Washington in McKale Center on Jan. 26. McClellan will play professionally in Belgium next season.

    Jawann McClellan’s trip to Europe will include a Belgium dip.

    The former UA guard got a phone call this morning and was informed that he’d be playing for Spotter Leuven next season in Belgium, located in northwest Europe.

    “”I talked to the head coach (Gino Yaakov),”” McClellan told the Wildcat this morning. “”I don’t know how, but they got him on the phone. He basically said he thinks I’ve got skill and that he’s going to give me the green light even though he knows about my past and how I’m a scorer.””

    McClellan’s past, as he referred to, involves multiple injuries and surgeries throughout his four years at Arizona; family troubles, including his father, George, passing away at 55 in 2005; and this past season, him being switched to more of a defensive stopper than a go-to scorer.

    McClellan said he will sign a 10-month contract to play for Leuven. With pensions and bonuses, he’ll be making six figures, he said.

    “”I don’t want to say the exact amount,”” McClellan said, “”but I’m making a lot of money.””

    That has been a life-long goal of McClellan’s: get paid to play basketball.

    He had his chance with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers this summer, but back spasms took him away from the first day of practice and led to him being cut.

    The guard said he was as emotional about hearing from Europe as he was hearing from the 76ers. And he cried when he heard from the 76ers.

    “”You’re getting paid to play basketball and it’s just, like, a burden off your chest,”” he said. “”You’ve been waiting on the phone call and I finally got it.””

    McClellan expects his transition into Europe to be a smooth one. On his team will be former Oklahoma State player Mario Boggan and former Texas Tech player Andre Emmett.

    McClellan also played in France twice as part of the USA Youth Festival in 2003 and 2004 Global Games.

    What’s more, Belgium is the also the most Americanized country in Europe, he said.

    “”It shouldn’t be that big of a difference,”” he said. “”I get along with everyone that I meet.””

    The style of basketball is different in Europe, McClellan said, but is nothing that he can’t adapt to.

    “”It’s a lot of fouling,”” he said with a laugh. “”Because some of those guys don’t have the athleticism that the Americans do.””

    McClellan said he’s also talked to former Wildcats Mustafa Shakur, Joseph Blair, Hassan Adams – all of whom have played overseas – about the difference in play.

    “”They said I’m gonna like it,”” McClellan said. “”We’ll see when I get up there.””

    As for Belgium being a stepping stone to the NBA, McClellan isn’t too sure about that.

    “”To be honest with you … if I do well and make (it onto an NBA roster) next year, I don’t even know if I would have come back to the NBA,”” he said.

    Would he continue to play professionally in Europe then?

    “”Yeah. The Clippers and Sixers want me to come back so far, but I’m not sure yet. I’ll wait and see.””

    For now, McClellan is just happy to be where he is.

    “”I’m very excited that I’m playing in the top league over there,”” he said. “”I’m happy to have the opportunity to keep playing basketball. I can’t ask for anything more than that.””

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