Jamal McClerkin
Image Source:DailyNews

By Clarence Gaines

This post was contributed by longtime NBA scout Clarence Gaines, who spotted the un-recruited talent of Jamal McClerkin while attending an AAU game earlier this week. Special thanks to Clarence for allowing us to reprint his scouting report here.

Any Division 1 or 2 BB coaches have a scholarship available. Saw a special athlete on Monday Night. Jamal McClerkin is a 6’1 185 pound senior who just graduated from Chaminade High School in West Hills, CA. Jamal played a game with Ed Song’s California Select team in the Pangos Summer Tip-Off tournament against Cal Supreme Red’s Team on Tuesday, July 6. California Select lost by 1 and could have easily beaten one of the top ranked travel teams in California. But the result doesn’t matter, it’s the effort of Song’s young team that caught my eye, particularly Jamal McClerkin, who was the best player on the floor on this night. I didn’t say the most skilled; I said the best player. Jamal played the game with a ferocity that you rarely see in a young athlete. He left it on the floor. He played the game with passion, toughness, energy and intensity.

I was sitting by Byron Wesley’s (committed to USC 2011) dad. Byron plays for Cal Supreme and is a very nice player. He plays with poise and I like his shooting ability. USC has a young man who has a chance to have a stellar career at the small forward position. First thing I said to Byron’s dad is that Jamal has a football mentality. He plays with that type of toughness and heart. He fears nobody and is the type of player who can take the heart out of his opponent. Byron’s father loved his athleticism, but was skeptical of his basketball skill. I kept telling him that Jamal is the type of player who wins games for coaches. Extremely PRODUCTIVE player. Superior rebounder for size. Don’t know the stats,but he had to be the leading rebounder on the floor. He was boarding over players 5 to 8 inches taller than him. It was truly a sight to behold. If I’m a college coach, this is the type of kid I can work with and develop. One thing that I don’t have to worry about is his will to win or his work ethic. Byron’s dad questioned Jamal’s shooting ability because the majority of his points came off drives and rebound put backs. Jamal silenced him with a sweet jumper with about 5 minutes left in the game from about 17 feet. Caught in rhythm and hit nothing but net. He leaned over to me and said; I guess he can shoot.

Enough of the narrative. Let’s get to the bottom line. Jamal is a two sport athlete. Played wide receiver in high school. I can’t believe he wasn’t recruited to play football in college. I played college football. I also was a scout for 11 years in the NBA. I know an athlete when I see one. Jamal is a high level division 1 football player. I don’t know what type of wide receiver he was, but I do know a football player when I see one. He could easily play any defensive backfield position. With all the troubles USC is currently experiencing, they should get on the phone and immediately offer this kid a football scholarship.

Let’s talk basketball. Even though I love him as a football prospect, I suspect he loves basketball more than football.

He has a future in the college level in basketball (I think he has pro potential in football).

He should easily draw interest from low to mid major division 1 basketball programs.

Division II programs should be knocking the door down. This kid is planning to go to a junior college in 2010-11 and I can’t believe it.

I think he qualifies academically for a 4 year school. Went to a very good private school. The kid is a stud. A stud.

Jamal McClerkin
Image Source: DailyNews

Here’s my expert basketball opinion. Can see him playing 2/3 spot in college. That’s right a 6’1″ kid who can hold his own at the 3 spot. He plays big, real big for 6’1″. Very explosive athlete. Has all the strength attributes that I look for; explosive strength, reactive strength, and absolute strength (ability to resist external forces). Very reactive jumper. Gets rebounds on second and third effort. Pursuit of the ball is outstanding. Instincts are outstanding. Has a nose for the ball. Traffic rebounder. Rebounds outside of area and can rebound against superior size. Kid can flat out board. Obviously as a 6’1 kid, you want to develop him into a two guard & maybe even a combo guard, but let’s be conservative. At the low and mid major level he can play 2/3 for you and he will find ways to help your team win the game. He’s a great athlete, and I don’t use that term lightly. There are 5 biomotor abilities that you look for in an athlete: strength,endurance, speed, coordination, and flexibility. He’s at the high end of the spectrum in all those categories and has excellent quickness as well. Kid has all the physical attributes and the mentality to be a great defender. Song had him guarding bigger people at times in the post. Picked up his first foul by being overly physical in the post, but he was also sending a message. You’re going to have to go through me or over me, but you’re not going to go around me. Just brings a kick ass toughness to the floor that a coach with a defensive mentality would love.

In evaluating a kid offensively in a travel team setting you have to be cognizant that a lot of help side defense is not going to get implemented. However, this game was intense, especially in the last 10 minutes of the second half. I watched him play against a team that has some very good athletes, as well as some high level division one players. If you don’t trust my opinion, contact Ed Song and you can look at the tape for yourself. Offensively, I love his attack of the rim. His first step quickness. His strength with the ball, His ability to create separation and space off the drive and his ability to finish in traffic. Didn’t see much of a mid range game and only took a few shots from the outside. Suspect he needs to develop his floor game on top of the floor. Shooting release looks OK, Can easily become a better shooter with repetition. Handle is OK – not a lot of wasted dribbles. Plays smart, made good decisions and will share the ball.

Recently, a coaching friend (Steve Finamore), posted this Magic Johnson quote from a book Magic co-wrote with Roy Johnson. I’ve titled the passage “Playing to Win.” On Tuesday, July 6 Jamal McClerkin’s play lived up to Magic’s words:

Playing to Win

“The ingredients to the NBA championship are right there for every player, coach, and team to grab if they can. But it takes time – time, experience, and the will to win.

When I’m playing basketball, I’m playing to win, nothing else. Not to score, to rebound, or to excel in one particular area of the game, but to win. That means I’m a rebounder, a scorer, a passer, even a cheerleader.

It means I’m going to be an example to my teammates of what having a winning attitude is all about.

It means I’ll have a burning desire to be the very best player on the best team.

It means I’ll have an attitude of unselfishness that keeps me craving for more of the rewards of success, more championships for my team, not glory for myself.

It means I won’t ever get jealous of the attention one of my teammates is getting because nobody gets any attention when you lose.” Earvin Magic Johnson

I saw another nice player on Song’s team that I liked. His name is Dillon and his number is 6. I won’t go into details. I was there from 5:30PM to 10:00PM. I saw a lot of ball and a few players that I really liked. But the one I wanted to take the time to write up was Jamal McClerkin, because I just can’t figure out why a football or basketball coach hasn’t offered this kid a scholarship.

Clarence Gaines

If you are a fan of the NBA, you should follow Clarence on Twitter, where he gives expert insight and honest opinion about the game of pro basketball.