Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Former Georgetown star and Southwest Virginia native Mac McClung made headlines today when he removed his name from the NBA Draft, but chose to enter the transfer portal rather than return to Georgetown.
Georgetown's Mac McClung will enter the NCAA transfer portal, he told ESPN. "A number of different events made me feel I had no choice but to transfer from Georgetown." ESPN News story: https://t.co/1dC0vHZD6g— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 13, 2020
Unsurprisingly, there was an instant connection made about McClung and Virginia Tech given the fact that McClung is a Southwest Virginia native and was previously recruited by Mike Young when he was at Wofford. The storyline of one of the region's biggest high school basketball stars in this century returning to Southwest Virginia also is a great story.
However, not only is there no chance that we'll see McClung end up in Blacksburg, but the two parties also likely wouldn't be good fits for the following reasons.
1. Scholarship Numbers/Imbalance
First, there's the fact that Virginia Tech currently has 14 scholarship players with only 13 available slots. In a recent virtual press conference, Hokies head coach Mike Young did confirm that there will be a player announcing in the near future his intentions to move on from the program.
To bring in Mac McClung, the Hokies are going to need a pair of departures after already having 2 with Landers Nolley and Isaiah Wilkins. While there is one coming, it would be stunning if there was another departure.
Plus, why would Virginia Tech try to push someone out for a player who really doesn't help the Hokies' roster and likely would not be a starter for the Hokies this year (if he were to gain immediate eligibility) or next?
There's also the fact that Virginia Tech will have 5 players who will be sophomores of some sorts in 2020-21 and juniors in 2021-22. Unless McClung can gain immediately eligibility, he would be added into that group bloating that group to 6 and creating a scholarship imbalance that coaches always to avoid.
Of course, the increase of transfers has changed things and made scholarship management harder in some ways but also easier in others. However, making a move that forces you to potentially rely on that to finally get the scholarship balance that you're already looking to get just doesn't make a lot of sense.
The fact is that even if VT had the room, the scholarship numbers long term don't make much sense for the Hokies.
2. McClung Doesn't Fit With the Current Roster Makeup
Mac McClung may only be a 6'2'' guard who led Georgetown with over a 30% usage this past season, but McClung isn't a point guard and doesn't really fill a need for Virginia Tech.
As mentioned above, McClung has never been a point guard at Georgetown and is a surefire 2 guard at the collegiate level. McClung isn't a great offensive point man anyway averaging only 2.4 assists compared to 1.8 turnovers this past season.
Additionally, McClung just hasn't been a very efficient basketball player. He has failed to shoot over 40% from the field in either of his two seasons at Georgetown including under 33% from three-point range each of his first two seasons (though he did show improvement this past season). Now McClung does well at getting to the free-throw line and taking advantage averaging almost 5 free-throw attempts per game while shooting 80.2% from the line this past season.
However, Virginia Tech already has a pair of undersized players who spend plenty of time at the 2 guard in Tyrece Radford and Jalen Cone. Both Radford and Cone have proven to be significantly more efficient players with defined roles as Radford is a scrappy player who is one of America's best at attacking the rim and creating fast break opportunities (plus the best inch-for-inch rebounder).
Meanwhile, Cone emerged as one of the top freshman three-point shooters in the country making 45.7% of his threes while also showing some growth as a point guard (though his best role may be similar to what VT did with Seth Allen).
Given what McClung's role would likely be at the 2 guard, it's hard to imagine him beating out Radford or Cone for major minutes.
Now there's no doubt that McClung is very athletic and has a nose for the most exciting plays along with doing well at getting to the free-throw line but in Blacksburg where the Hokies need more size and have two undersized 2 guards already, it's hard to see him having a starting or even large role.
3. McClung Would Be Better Off Outside The Power Conferences
McClung's style of play is one that requires him to be on the ball a lot in part because his effectiveness is around volume, especially gaining a high volume of free throws. At least at Virginia Tech, McClung would not have nearly the same volume at Georgetown where he was the guy in the Hoyas' backcourt especially after the departure of James Akinjo midseason.
McClung did have a net positive offensive rating to defensive rating for the season but in limited action in Big East play, McClung had a -13.5 offensive rating to defensive rating (points per 100 possessions) average difference. This was also a decline from his freshman season at Georgetown where the average difference in conference play was -10.1.
McClung definitely is an above-average athlete and has shown plenty of attributes to be a solid contributor in the power conferences, but his volume and style of play suggest someone who would be best off playing in the high mid-majors/borderline power conferences. Somewhere like the Atlantic 10 or the AAC would make a lot of sense in giving McClung the chance to be a focal player in a highly competitive league while also potentially spurring his development and still facing good, but slightly weaker competition.
Now could McClung develop into an efficient high-major star that can be among a power conference's best, absolutely. However, to this point, most signs point towards McClung being a solid contributor at best and given his lack of three-point shooting but high volume overall, his best move may be to a high mid-major conference.
Of course, crazy things can happen in college basketball especially with how active the transfer portal is nowadays, and McClung would be a solid addition to the team and even a better story. However, it would take a lot for the possibility of making it happen to be realistic in the first place before evaluating a fit that doesn't make much sense.