Written by Chris Kubala
The college basketball season ended with a whimper thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had no March Madness: for that matter, we didn’t even see most of the power conferences play their conference tournaments. That made for an unsatisfying end to the season to say the least. There’s no national champion for the year so Tony Bennett and Virginia remain your defending national champions by default it would seem. There have been a ton of names thrown in the transfer portal since the end of the season.
Some of those names, like Chaundee Brown and Olivier Sarr, have announced their new destinations. Whether they will be able to play right away or not remains to be seen. With the NCAA pretty much tabling a decision regarding the transfer rule until January 2021, players in the portal are going to have to hope they can get a waiver if they plan on playing right away. Otherwise, they’ll face a tough decision: sit out the year and come back in 2021-22, stay in the NBA Draft and hope to be picked, hope that they can catch on in the G League or go overseas to play.
One of the biggest remaining names in the portal right now is former Georgetown guard Mac McClung. Coach Patrick Ewing was confident that he would return for his junior season earlier this month only to see McClung announce that he was entering the portal to continue his career with a contending team. In an interview with ESPN, he said “It was a number of different events that made me feel I had no choice but to transfer from Georgetown. I really wanted to stay, but things throughout my career made me realize that I couldn't... I'm looking for a place I can call home. A place I can be a part of a family and help them succeed."
It hasn’t taken long for McClung to narrow down his list to seven schools. It was announced that he’s looking at Texas Tech, Auburn, Memphis, USC, BYU, Arkansas and Wake Forest. He has two years of eligibility remaining whenever he starts playing, be it this season via a waiver or next year should that not be granted. There are some schools in that group that would portend to be the leaders for his services but you never know when it comes to a young player making a decision. Let’s take a look at who we think the best options are:
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have plenty of needs to be tended to after the 2019-20 season was a disappointment following their national title game run the year before. With Jah’mius Ramsey declaring for the NBA Draft and a potential first-round pick, it opens up the point guard role for the Red Raiders. Throw in that Davide Moretti has left the program to play in the EuroLeague and Texas Tech is in need of guard play. McClung would be a solid fit as he can score and play defense. Chris Beard needs a quality guard to plug into his lineup and make plays. McClung could be a quality addition at this stage to help bridge for the next group of talent.
BYU: Most of the time when you think of BYU, you think about BYU, you think about a lot of bombing away from the outside and playing at a ridiculously fast tempo. The Cougars were 19th in the nation in scoring with 79.6 points per game and ranked first in three-point shooting (41.9 percent) in addition to second in effective field goal percentage (58.1 percent) last season. With several members of last year’s team gone, coach Mark Pope is going to have to retool. If McClung manages to get a waiver, he’d benefit from having grad transfer Matt Haarms in the mix after he announced to make the move from Purdue.
Memphis: If there’s a coach out there who can get the most out of a point guard in college hoops, it’s Penny Hardaway. He’s under a little pressure after James Wiseman lasted only three games before withdrawing from school and deciding to prep for the NBA Draft. Picking up Landers Nolley from Virginia Tech would provide the Tigers with a capable scoring option and help take pressure off McClung. Losing Precious Achiuwa is a blow for the Tigers, who also saw Jalen Green take a deal with the G League instead of potentially landing in Memphis. There is some need for new blood in Bluff City: will McClung fit the bill?