The Notre Dame coaching staff got right to it last Monday, the first day they could officially contact 2022 basketball recruits. Head coach Mike Brey jumped on a call with Bristol (Conn.) Central center Donovan Clingan and gave him some good news.
“Coach Brey was one of my first calls on Monday morning,” stated Clingan. “We just started off by talking about the season and how everything ended early because of Covid-19. We talked about my plans for AAU this summer, how I fit into their program and just how much they are interested in me. Toward the end of our conversation, he offered me a scholarship to Notre Dame.”
The 7-1, 260-pound big man never directly spoke to the Notre Dame staff before the offer, but assistant coach Rob Balanis was out to see Clingan play earlier this year and had been in touch with his high school coach.
“His assistant (Coach Balanis) came and watched me play at the beginning of my high school season, and they were really interested,” Clingan mentioned. “They called my coach a lot, but I wasn’t able to speak with them until Coach Brey called me.”
Before the contact period Clingan already held offers from many programs like UConn, Georgetown, Providence, Syracuse, Iowa, Boston College and UMass. However, he picked up several offers and a ton of interest in the first week with more access to college coaches.
“Monday was insane,” said Clingan. “Phone was blowing up all day long. Tuesday wasn’t as crazy, but there were a lot of phone calls. Since then, it has just been about one a day. It is just crazy.”
“I received six offers last week,” he continued. “Michigan State, Rutgers, Notre Dame, Yale, Maryland and Virginia Tech, and I’ve been in contact with Iona, Louisville, UCF, Northwestern, Columbia, Michigan, South Carolina and Georgia.”
With several of Clingan’s offers and interests coming from high academic programs, it is obvious that the academic side of things is going to play a role in his college decision. He already knows what he is looking for in a program at the next level.
“Academics is definitely big for me,” Clingan said. “My mom always wanted me to do four years of college. I need to get a good education in case something happens to me after college and I can’t play basketball anymore. I need a good job and a good livelihood, so education is big on my decision.”
“The biggest factors in my decision will be my future teammates, coaching staff, atmosphere and academics,” Clingan continued. “I want to be around good passers and have good chemistry with my teammates, I want the coaching staff to be on point, and I want there to be a good fan base. Those are really the top four things I am looking for in a program.”
At Notre Dame, it doesn’t feel like Clingan would have a hard time fitting in with his teammates on the basketball court. Mike Brey’s 4 around 1 look on offense is something that appeals to him and he could see himself thriving in that type of system.
“That is my favorite offense,” explained Clingan. “Right now in high school, usually I am getting double and triple teamed. When the floor is more spaced out, it is easier for me to get one-on-one looks. The floor is more spaced in that 4 around 1 look, which makes it easier for me to score. And then, if defenders crash in on me I can kick it out. That is one thing about my game; I actually have good court vision and pass the ball well.”
Clingan is also looking to become a more balanced player all-around. He understands that in today’s basketball, big men need to guard the perimeter and hit shots from beyond the paint. His biggest strengths are inside, but he is working hard to improve his outside game.
“I’m a seven footer, so two of my best attributes are playing back to the basket one-on-one and facing up,” mentioned Clingan. “I can face up, take one or two dribbles, get to the basket and score. The way the game is nowadays, big men are starting to get the ball outside, needing to knock down shots. I’ve been working on my three ball a lot and just getting more confident in that. It is starting to become more consistent. During this quarantine, I’ve been working on that and my ball handling a lot. I’ve also been working on getting into a gym where I can start lifting again, because I need to get stronger.”
The Connecticut native is still a long ways from making a decision and stepping foot on a college campus for his freshman season, but he does have a timeframe in mind for when he would like to make a decision. He can also see Notre Dame as a big part of that process.
“My goal is to be committed before my senior year after AAU season,” he stated. “I want to be able to go out and look at all the campuses and just get to know the coaches and my future teammates more...and then take it from there.”
“Notre Dame is a top school academic wise and sports wise,” continued Clingan. “It is a good place to be at.”
The Notre Dame coaching staff has now handed out three offers in the class of 2022. Clingan is certainly playing a position of need for Notre Dame. Despite the addition of Matt Zona and Elijah Taylor in the 2021 class, Notre Dame needs to keep adding skilled bigs to the roster, and the Top 50 recruit by ESPN and Rivals would be that. He would bring an even bigger body to the roster, something it won’t have when he would show up at Notre Dame.
It is good to see the Irish staff getting on Clingan early, because it feels like only a matter of time before the college basketball blue bloods are knocking down his door.
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