Amongst all of the newest additions to the UConn men’s basketball team, one man stands the tallest of them all. That man is an 18-year-old freshman named Donovan Clingan.
The Bristol, Connecticut native comes to the Huskies as the No. 51 prospect in ESPN’s Class of 2022 ranking and a No. 52 ranking by 247Sports. Fresh off a state championship run for Bristol Central High School, Clingan dominated in-state competition and even when playing out of state, the talented big man showed off a versatile basketball skill set that caught the eyes of many.
Showing loyalty to his high school, state and parents, Clingan shocked many people by staying all four years at the same high school and turning down the chance to play at prep schools. When it came down to a college decision, loyalty prevailed. The decision came down to offers that included Ohio State, Syracuse, Providence, Notre Dame and many more. In the end, the opportunity to stay in-state at UConn was far too enticing for the homegrown talent.
In high school, Clingan demonstrated some remarkable attributes that, with his development at UConn, could make the young big man a force to be reckoned with on the court.
The first thing that comes to mind about Clingan’s versatile skill set is the freshman’s 7-foot-2, 265 pound frame that creates major problems defensively for opposing rosters. As an under the basket big man, Clingan uses his height advantage to become a force in the paint.
In the post, Clingan uses his frame and physicality to body defenders. He’s able to lay the ball in well with both hands and has a nice hook shot from the post. He establishes himself well as a scoring threat by positioning himself well in the post and utilizing his size.
He also possesses a great ability to pass out of the post as well and get it to teammates for open scoring opportunities, a valuable skill for a player of his size. Clingan shows excellent court vision and with plenty of weapons on UConn’s roster this season, that aspect of his game may be utilized more than ever this season.
Clingan has shown that he’s incredibly valuable on pick and roll plays, using his height and size to provide easy scoring opportunities through the paint or flashy alley-oop plays. He shows great hustle as he cuts to the basket, but he’ll need to be faster at finishing the basketball at the rim whether that’s with an electric dunk or a quick layup.
With Clingan’s size and skillset, he’s an excellent rebounder, allowing him to grab plenty of second-chance scoring possessions and help his team get back on offense. Using great positioning under the basket, Clingan showed that he was able to collect rebounds even with plenty of contest from opposing teams. While Clingan did show great positioning on his offensive rebounding, he will have to stay consistent on boxing out his opponent on defensive rebounding, especially as he bulks up under proper conditioning and is able to handle bigger defenders.
Clingan’s offensive abilities don’t stay in the paint either. The rising freshman showed off his ever-developing jump shot with great form that certainly has the potential to become a scary part of his scoring arsenal. With how modern professional big men have been able to shoot the basketball from deep, opposing defenders could see Clingan shooting the ball much more as a member of the Huskies.
Defensively, Clingan has shown that he’s an excellent rim protector. At UConn, those skills should only get even better with a defensive-minded coach like Dan Hurley. Using his size, Clingan doesn’t have to jump very high off the ground for blocks. His size also allows him to contest shots in the paint well even if the UConn freshman is unable to grab the block.
While Clingan has many strengths as a defender, there’s also many areas that he’ll have to develop. He’ll have to work on staying with smaller and faster players. Even when he’s close to the paint where he’s at his strongest, Clingan needs to stay consistent in protecting the paint.
With much promise for Clingan and a college coaching staff in Storrs, UConn’s newest freshman now has the tools to take his game to the next level and show what he could do against even greater competition at the collegiate level. While his minutes may be limited as a freshman, Clingan’s first year in college basketball will certainly be interesting and exciting for both fans and analysts to watch.