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No Hunter McClintock Story on A Sea of Blue? How Shameful!

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We have mentioned, but have not really examined YouTube sensation Hunter McClintock, the 6'2"/170# guard out of Durham, North Carolina.  Some might ask, "But why do we need yet another story on this guy?"  Two reasons, really -- first, I don't have that much UK related stuff to talk about, and second because I just got around to watching the now-famous McClintock YouTube highlight videos that have created such a buzz.

Unlike many, I don't jump to watch Internet videos of basketball players.  The ones I have seen are often misleading, and as anyone will tell you, there is very little about a player's overall game you can tell by watching a highlight reel of his best plays.  But such displays are not altogether without value, and McClintock's certainly isn't.

I'll add the disclaimer now that I don't consider myself a recruiting guru or talent evaluator, and I don't pretend to be one on the Internet.  But I have been playing the game and watching high school, college and professional basketball since about 1967, and that should count for something.

Here are the things I like about McClintock:

  • He seems to be a very good ball handler, maybe even gifted.
  • He is a good passer who appears to like to push the ball down the floor on the pass, rather than on the dribble.  If this is actually the case, it is a very underrated but valuable skill.  That is one of the things that makes DeAndre Liggins so desirable.
  • He has good shooting form.  This is always a strength.
  • He appears to me to have a very quick release, although I have seen comments from other evaluators who actually get paid that say he has a relatively slow release.  None of the shots I saw him take would qualify as a "slow release," so I don't know what to believe here.
  • He changes direction very well on the move.  Again, this is an underrated but very valuable skill, especially in a lead guard.
  • He plays surprisingly "long" for his size.
  • He is left-handed.  That is a significant advantage in college.

Here are the things I don't like:

  • Hunter isn't really a point guard at all, but a combo guard.  He is very offensive minded, and passing seems to be something he has to think about doing.
  • If McClintock is 6'2", I am 7'.  He might be six feet, but he looks more likely 5'11" or so to me.  He may still be growing, but he just doesn't look that tall.  He is playing with 3-A players, so one would think they wouldn't have that many players over about 6'5", and he always looked like one of the shortest players out there.
  • The ball really sticks in his hands.  He handles well, and would prefer to do the dribbling himself.  Think Rajon Rondo's second year.  He has to learn to give the ball up instinctively, not reluctantly.
  • He tends to be too flashy with the dribble.  In Carolina 3-A ball you can do that.  In the SEC, you will be watching your defender make layups on the other end.
  • He goes to his strong hand too much.  Being left-handed in high school is a much bigger advantage even than college.  High school players invariably defend poorly to the left, even left-handed ones, because most players are right-handed and go right all the time.  I developed a cross-over to the left hand that, even at my advanced age, is a tremendous advantage.  I have often beaten players 20+ years my junior to the left for layups 3 and 4 times in a row.  In fact, in many cases it is simply indefensible because of a defender's ingrained bias to the right.

    In college, coaches will break down your game and teach you to defend left-handed players.  Can McClintock overcome this?  For that matter, can he go right at all?

Here are the things we don't know:

  • Competition level -- McClintock has been playing 3-A ball.  I think you will recall a certain Kentucky player who was a legend in 3-A last year here in Kentucky named Steffphon Pettigrew.  Pettigrew was a fine high school player who put up gaudy stats playing for Elizabethtown, but I think very few would agree that he should be a Wildcat right now rather than a Hilltopper.  I'd want to see more of McClintock against known quality competition.
  • Can McClintock defend?  There is absolutely no footage of him playing defense on these highlight reels.  We already have walkons who are deadly 3-point shooters, but lack the athleticism for them to have been offered scholarships.  McClintock does appear to possess good athleticism, but is it good enough?
  • Lateral quickness -- Hunter is really great going North-South.  He has plenty of quickness and speed there, but in the SEC, you have to be able to go East-West very quickly in order to prevent the lightning-quick point guards from getting to the rack.  If McClintock is slow laterally, he will be a defensive liability, and we know that defensive liabilities get very little clock under Gillispie.
  • What do his bad plays look like?  A lot can be learned about a player from his good plays, but even more from when he messes up.  Does he hang his head?  Does he try too hard and wind up turning one error into two?  Does he play with so much "flash" that he is likely to become a turnover machine?  How confident is he when he is challenged by a superior athlete?  All these things figure into whether or not he is UK material.  None of them are evident on the videos.

Hunter is coming to Gillispie's summer camp, where I am sure he will be evaluated for an offer to UK.  All the things above, and no doubt many more, will be carefully noted and evaluated by Gillispie and his staff.  I believe that if Hunter gets an offer from UK, he will commit on the spot.