Georgetown men’s basketball’s sophomore guard Mac McClung announced Sunday afternoon his decision to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft, which is currently scheduled for June 25. Despite his declaration, McClung signed with an NBA/NCAA certified agent, which allows him to return to Georgetown University next season should he choose to do so.
In his Twitter announcement on the afternoon of March 29, McClung made it clear his decision to pursue the predraft process does not mean the star guard will be playing elsewhere next year.
“I have decided to enter the 2020 NBA Draft while maintaining my eligibility. Thank you for all your support & Go Hoyas!” McClung wrote in the tweet.
The 2019-20 season was a disappointment for McClung, who played well in nonconference play to start the season, showing improved shooting efficiency and offensive aggression from his freshman year performance. Injuries to his eye and ankle limited him to just 21 games on the season, though he did average 15.7 points per game to lead the team while pulling in an average of 3.1 rebounds and tallying an average of 2.4 assists per game.
On the professional stage, the guard’s strengths and weaknesses would be made clearer. His biggest strengths, as anticipated from his high school dunking highlights, have been his speed and leaping ability. This athleticism would help McClung flourish in the NBA, where players are more widely spread out with more space within the arc.
McClung’s weakness has been his defense, which could become a problem should he be tasked with guarding some of the NBA’s best ballhandlers and long-range shooters.
McClung’s three-point efficiency has also been a challenge for the guard during his collegiate career. In his sophomore season, McClung shot only 32.3% from beyond the arc to rank eighth among teammates, falling below the 36.4% average of his opponents. This total could fall further as he faces a deeper three-point line in the league. It should be noted, however, that his three-point shooting improved significantly from his first year on the Hilltop, when he shot 27.7% from deep in his 29 games as a freshman.
Another of McClung’s strengths is his ability to work alongside a wide range of players on the court, especially in the point guard position. As a guard with the Hoyas, McClung has shared the stage with former Georgetown guard James Akinjo and graduate student guard Terrell Allen. In both of his seasons on the Hilltop, McClung has not been the primary ballhandler in either season, with Akinjo bearing that burden in 2018-19 and Allen leading the charge in 2019-20.
Akinjo and Allen were seen by coaches around college basketball as being polar opposites, despite posting similar assist totals in those two seasons — 5.2 for Akinjo and 4.0 for Allen. The different dynamics of the players likely stemmed from their differences in shooting volume, with Akinjo shooting far more often than the graduate guard. Akinjo drew criticism for his shooting from notable figures such as Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim, who commented about Akinjo being a difficult player to mesh with on the court.
“They got rid of a guy that wouldn’t pass the ball to anybody and just shot every time. That’s why they’re good now,” Boeheim noted after the Hoyas took down his Syracuse team Dec. 14.
Regardless of Akinjo and Allen’s different playing styles in the point guard position, McClung managed to build off both of them. In Akinjo’s seven games this season, McClung still averaged 11.9 points and 1.4 assists even with Akinjo’s tendency to hold possession. After Akinjo’s departure, McClung went on to average 17.6 points and 2.9 assists a game with Allen at guard, demonstrating his ability to thrive with anyone on the court.
McClung’s leadership through the turmoil this past season was also a notable trait for the Gate City, Va. native, who became the voice of the team after the departures of freshman forward Myron Gardner, junior forward Galen Alexander, sophomore forward Josh LeBlanc and Akinjo in December 2019.
“I think that’s what happens when you face challenges; you either break apart or come together, and I think we’ve come together,” McClung said, after leading the Hoyas with 26 points against Syracuse on Dec. 14.
McClung held the team together just as he said, leading his team to four straight wins following the four players’ departures and helping take down another ranked opponent in Creighton in the remainder of the season before falling to injury.
McClung’s speed, athleticism and compatibility with a wide range of point guards make him a serious prospect to play in the NBA eventually, though his shooting inefficiency and his limited 21-game sophomore season make it unlikely that he goes through with the NBA Draft process this year. While McClung tests the draft waters, Hoya fans should expect their star guard back on the Hilltop next year.