[caption id="attachment_348024" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
Of the seemingly endless number of college transfers looking for a breath of fresh air, a few stand out more than the others. One of those individuals is Mac McClung, a 21-year old who already holds three years of collegiate experience.
Kentucky is one of the reported names
that has surfaced in connection with McClung (along with half of the available guards in the transfer portal), who recently announced that he would leave Texas Tech for a new start following Chris Beard's decision to do the same as he took the head coaching job with in-state rival Texas. This is now the second time that McClung has put his name in the portal, as he did so after two impressive seasons at Georgetown under head coach Patrick Ewing before heading to Lubbock.
During his brief stint with the Red Raiders, McClung posted impressive figures of 15.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game on a shooting split of 41.9/34.1/79.3. He attempted nearly five 3-pointers per outing, as well, while playing upwards of 30 minutes and turning the ball over fewer than two times a game. McClung is a bonafide shot-maker with unbelievable athleticism who led a consistently ranked Texas Tech squad to the Second Round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
The 6-foot-3 combo guard is going to entertain the NBA Draft process, but with the intention to transfer if he doesn't receive the feedback he is looking for during the pre-draft evaluation period. If he were to return to college, he has the ability to bring instant offense to any team he chooses. Along with Kentucky, reports also indicate that programs such as Gonzaga, Texas, Georgia, Memphis, NC State, Minnesota, Boston College, and Florida have reached out to McClung.
While the exact level of interest for each school is unknown at this time, it's reasonable to assume that Coach Beard and Texas would be an enticing possibility, and his head coach reinforced that theory.
"He really likes Coach Beard," McClung's former high school coach at Gate City out of Virginia, Coach Scott Vermillion, told KSR on Friday. "Coach [Beard] was very instrumental in Mac's growth over the past season. He really grew up as a player and will continue to do that.
"[This past year] was a rollercoaster ride for him. I think he was happy with Beard and Texas Tech and now for this to happen, it's a surprise for him. So now he's looking elsewhere and will see what his best options are. Mac's one of those kids who's easy to love, brings a lot of juice and energy and enthusiasm to the game. Our school and community loves him. He was fun to coach."
Vermillion spent 18 seasons as the head coach at Gate City before stepping down at the beginning of April to take on an administrative role as the principal of the high school. He led the Blue Devils to four state runner-up appearances in 2007, 2008, 2013, and 2020 along with winning the school's only state championship in 2018.
Vermillion was able to coach McClung throughout his four years of high school--watching him drop 47 points in the 2018 state title game and 64 during a regular-season game in his junior season--and helped him through his decision to transfer from Georgetown to Texas Tech.
"It was the right decision to play for Coach Beard," Vermillion said about McClung transferring to Texas Tech in May of 2020. "Absolutely a good decision. It just didn't turn out to be exactly what he thought it was gonna be. Maybe it's turned out to be better."
Had Coach Beard not left for Texas, McClung might still be in Lubbock preparing for next season. Beard's decision has subsequently given McClung a new set of options he hadn't previously considered. There's no doubt that Texas will be on McClung's radar going forward throughout this process.
"I think naturally, he's already established a relationship with Coach Beard," Vermillion said. "How that's going to go from here, I would think that Texas from Texas Tech would be a difficult move for anybody because they're in the same league and same state. I'm certain that's in his mind but I would also say that would not be the ultimate factor. Fit in a program is the biggest deal for him.
So what kind of fit is McClung looking for? According to his high school coach, there are two big factors that stick out: coaches holding players accountable and their ability to produce NBA players.
"What we saw at Texas Tech, there's a fit," Vermillion said. "There was some structure to where he's learning to play a style of game that will translate to the next level. Somewhere where he's preparing himself for the NBA. The kid wants to be coached. Coach Beard would take him out, coach him, and put him back in--that was how it worked. Some places didn't do that. Some places take players out and don't put them back in."
McClung clearly has the talent to make himself into an NBA prospect, especially after putting up career numbers at Texas Tech. His defense has steadily improved because of the accountability that Coach beard instilled in his teams. McClung is looking for a similar vibe at his next school if he were to follow through with his transfer.
"When he was in high school he developed so quickly, so athletically," Vermillion added. "Skill-wise, he was arguably the best individual player in the state of Virginia when he was a senior. No one could stop him. But at this point in time, he's had to learn how to play without the ball in his hands
. Coach Beard has been instrumental in coaching him in that area. Defensively he's gotten better and better and better because he's had to guard better players and he's had to be in systems where--like Coach Beard's system where you have individual accountability and collective responsibility
As for a decision date, don't expect one from McClung to surface in the coming days. As KSR reported on Thursday
, it could be months before a final decision is made and his high school head coach confirmed that on Friday. McClung will go through the draft process and evaluate his options from there.
"What he'll do is he'll come back to me at the end when he's got it down to two or three and he'll lay it all out and say 'what do you think, Coach?'" Vermillion told KSR. "We're not to that stage yet. I think every school listed, I think all of those options are on the table."
Compared to the other schools on his list, Kentucky checks the box when it comes to producing professional talent who can make life-changing money at the next level. The Wildcats have also brought in West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe, a talented big man who Vermillion told KSR is still friends with McClung from their high school days growing up in Virginia
McClung is known as a gunner, which might make some fans hesitant about him coming to Lexington, but the talent is undeniably there. If he is as coachable as those around him believe him to be, Kentucky could be the fit he's searching for if his goal is making it to the NBA.