The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Column: Donovan Clingan etches his name into Connecticut history

Maximin Clement
Donovan Clingan (No. 32) guards DePaul guard Jalen Terry (No. 3) in UConn’s matchup with DePaul Wednesday, February 14, at Wintrust Arena.

Connecticut native Donovan Clingan has done the unimaginable: He went from high school basketball royalty to world champion, all in his home state. But that’s not the unimaginable part.

Connecticut isn’t California or New York; it’s the third-smallest state in the U.S. with a middling population, rarely producing a top recruit, and when they do, those players typically elect for University of Massachusetts or Providence College.

For those that do elect to go to the University of Connecticut, the local stars aren’t the ones winning championships. Connecticut high school phenom Andre Drummond didn’t win a single NCAA Tournament game in his career at UConn, only one season removed from the Huskies’ national championship, led by The Bronx’s Kemba Walker.

Donovan Clingan has broken through this barrier with two national championships as a husky. Not only was Clingan a contributor to the team, he was arguably the best husky in the tournament. When UConn needed a player to turn to, it was Clingan.

Though he only played 22.6 minutes per game this season, Clingan’s rebounding and defensive abilities shone through in the most important moments, making him the focal point of this team when it mattered most, especially against two-time Associated Press Player of the Year Zach Edey in the national championship.

Adding to Clingan’s prestige, he did it all in a tiny state where UConn basketball is the sport epicenter. Hailing from Bristol and standing at 7-feet-2-inches, as a high school senior, Clingan averaged 30.3 points, 18.4 rebounds and an astounding 6.2 blocks per game, earning him 2022 Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, an award that dates back to 1985. Clingan was no stranger to this award at that point, however. He won it in his junior year, when he “only” averaged 27.3 points per game.

Clingan is the first player in state history to win this award and the national championship for a school in Connecticut since Rashamel Jones and Edmund Saunders joined forces to help UConn win the 1999 national championship.

However, neither of these players averaged more than six points per game that season, whereas Clingan was UConn’s vocal leader and defensive anchor. Perhaps more importantly, Clingan won the Gatorade Player of the Year twice and the national championship twice. It’s safe to say he’s state royalty, and it will be interesting to see how his legend progresses.

Clingan’s loyalty to his state is a huge reason for UConn’s success. We’re in a world where Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) catapults players to new schools every season with no slowing down in sight. Clingan’s story is as old-fashioned as the legend of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, two college superstars facing off in the national championship while representing not only their schools but also their home states.

So, what’s next for Clingan? As of April 10, has the big man going to Philadelphia at the 14th pick in the NBA Draft. If this were the case, Connecticut would sit at the edge of 76er territory, making it not too difficult to support Clingan’s team, even if most Connecticuters are Celtics fans. Wherever he lands, and whether he is picked in the lottery or not, Clingan will always have a huge and loyal fanbase, and people may not realize this now. Still, Connecticuters may be talking about the legend of Donovan Clingan and the 2020 Connecticut Huskies for all eternity.

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