Behind the gutty play of point guard Ty Lawson, the North Carolina Tar Heels overcame their lowest score output of the season to defeat the Miami Hurricanes 69-65 last night. Miami got everything they wanted defensively out of the game: they held UNC to 38.8% shooting, Tyler Hansbrough only notched 8 points, and the Tar Heels only shot 8 free-throws. The problem for the Canes was on the offensive side of the ball, for everyone other than Jack McClinton. He had 35 last night, and over the last three games for Miami facing Wake Forest, Duke, and UNC has 101 points. McClinton had 53.8% of the points for Miami. Brian Asbury added 12 but no other player had more than 6. McClinton's play has been outstanding and if he was able to get some help, the Hurricanes would not be on a 6 of 8 skid with their tournament hopes dwindling each week. "I'd rather score two and have us win," McClinton said after the game putting the correct attitude forward but his numbers of late have been impressive. With unlimited range and a sweet, quick stroke it is hard to imagine Jack only scoring 2 and his latest run of games against top-ranked competition has him at the forefront of ACC player of the year consideration.
It would be quite a long shot if McClinton won ACC POY but then again that is his speciality. Jack has made 79 three-pointers this year which is more than any other player in the ACC and his 47.9% from behind the line is second only to Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague, both of whom have less than half the 165 attempts McClinton does. McClinton is one of four ACC players averaging over 20 points per game; Hansbrough leads the conference at 21.1, McClinton and Douglas are next at 20.3 and Jeff Teague is at 20.2. These four have to be at the top of the list although others like Tyrese Rice from BC, Sylven Landesberg from UVA, Kyle Singler of Duke and Ty Lawson deserve mention as well.
McClinton simply is the Miami team, without him they would probably be below .500 overall. He has been in double digits all but one game this season and that includes the game where he was ejected in the first half for his love tap against Ohio State. He also is an outstanding free-throw shooter, a career 87.5% shooter in college and second only in the ACC history to J.J. Redick. Perhaps his most impressive stat over the last 3 game stretch was brought up by Catfish. McClinton's points per shot was 1.63 over this stretch, and that is with him hoisting 62 shots in the 3 games combined. His total PPS over the season is 1.45 and that is with him having the fourth most shot attempts in the ACC.
As far as an NBA career goes McClinton has the quick release, the fiery attitude and the pure shooting ability off the dribble or off the catch to be an NBA player, the problem is going to be his size. Jack is thicker than his contemporary Stephen Curry, but McClinton only stands 6'1". The size issue may hinder his draft status but I have to believe he will at least get a shot somewhere in the league. McClinton's ball handling is average but he does not distribute the ball well enough to be an NBA point guard, even though he averages 3 assists per game and has a 1.2 AST/TO ratio. Of course his assists might be higher if his teammates could make some shots now and then.
McClinton has won the respect of his competition and has proven to be one of the best shooting guards in the ACC if not the best. He will likely fall short in ACC player of the year and with Tony Douglas, Jeff Teague, and Ty Lawson at the same position, he might not even make first team but his value to the Hurricanes has been irreplaceable to the slim NCAA Tournament hopes they now cling to.
Article here from Kevin Armstrong last Friday on McClinton's background and his personal journey. [SI.com]