The inaugural Top Dog Camp took place at the Vale Sportsplex in Middletown, CT this past weekend. Dozens of the region's top post prospects competed for the title of "Best Big Man in New England" but only one walked away with the honor.
Here's an in-depth look at New England's Top Dog.....
Ht: 7’2” Standing Reach: 9’6” Wingspan: 7’6”
The biggest name in camp arrived with an even bigger target on his back and handled it better than anyone could’ve expected. Whether he was showcasing his advanced footwork during individual drills or dominating his 1-on-1 matchups, Clingan proved that he was operating on a different level from beginning-to-end.
Blessed with physical attributes that simply can’t be taught, Clingan is already a priority recruit for a number of the nation’s top programs. UConn, Syracuse, Michigan State, Georgetown and Notre Dame are just a few.
With a developing inside/outside skillset that will force defenses to respect him at all three levels, Clingan’s future is as bright as anyone in the national Class of 2022. But that doesn’t make him the perfect prospect by any means.
In order to max out his potential long-term, he’ll have to be aware of the game’s ever-evolving expectations for prospects at his position.
It’s important for Clingan -and every young big man prospect- to study the games of NBA stars like Nikola Jokic (24 years old), Kristaps Porzingas (24) and Domantas Sabonis (23), who are setting the standard when it comes to the type of skillsets future bigs will be expected to own. Each of these established studs owns an expanded role within his team’s offense, either as a playmaker or reliable long range marksman.
Clingan is ahead of the curve offensively and owns an improved shooting stroke that remains true as his range stretches beyond the arch. He’s also shown an advanced feel as a facilitator, especially when he allows plays to develop and lets passing lanes open up. The young man is still just 16 years old but he’s also mature enough to realize that he has a ways to go as a ball-handler and needs to become a better rebounder outside of his own area.
Over the next few years, Clingan will also have to focus on improving his foot speed and learning how to sink-&-flip his hips with more fluidity on the defensive end. Opponents alleviate his size advantage by putting him in Pick-&-Roll situations, allowing their point guard to get downhill and attack the rim or take an open 3 if Clingan remains frozen in the paint. Good teams will put him on that island as much as possible, forcing him to defend while trying to get him into foul trouble and wear him down so he’s less effective on the offensive end.
If he remains at Bristol Central for the next two seasons, Clingan will also have to fight complacency and hold himself to a higher standard than his opponents will on a nightly basis.
Outside of his physical tools, Clingan also comes equipped with some rare emotional and mental characteristics as well. While he’s an extremely coachable young man, he’s also a passionate competitor who will work his ass off to improve all of the perceived areas of weakness mentioned in this breakdown. He’s motivated, loves the game and hates to lose far more than he likes to win.
Those traits are exponentially more important that any height, standing reach or wingspan measurement will ever be. Fortunately for Clingan, he registered off the charts in those categories as well.