The Miami Hurricanes are ranked 17th in the country, and Sheldon McClellan is a big reason why. The 6-5 senior from Houston is averaging 16.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists and has led Miami to victory in four of his last five games.
“I have told every NBA scout that I can speak to that Sheldon McClellan is an NBA first-round draft pick,” Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He’s that good. He has, first of all, the physical abilities. He has the right size for a 2-guard. He’s fast, he can jump, he’s quick, he’s athletic at a very, very high level of NBA basketball. And then his skill level: He can really shoot the three, he’s terrific driving the ball to the basket, he shoots 88 percent from the foul line. The guy is just a fun, young man to coach. He’s a very quiet young man. He’s not a real, real aggressive guy. He’s more of a team-oriented guy. I think if he were a little more aggressive, he could average 25 points a game.”
McClellan had a quiet night against Notre Dame on Wednesday, finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists in a 79-70 win. Then again, he also took just six shots from the floor. He made five of them and hit both of his free throws.
Miami displayed great balance overall, as five players finished in double figures. Three finished with 12 points, while Anthony Lawrence Jr. scored a game-high 18 off the bench.
“He came in and gave us a great lift,” Larrañaga said. “He doesn’t have to score 18 points like he did tonight, but if he can continue to give us good ball-handling, sharing the ball, not forcing anything and if he can get a few more rebounds, he’s going to really help us down the stretch.”
Reserve guard Ja’Quan Newton, meanwhile, scored 12 points of his own, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor. He also had two assists and one steal.
“Dick Vitale calls him the best sixth man in college basketball,” Larrañaga said. “When you go to the bench, a lot of times college coaches worry about going to their bench because they’re going to lose something. With Ja’Quan Newton, we get a major lift. He really gives us a shot of adrenaline, he’s a real catalyst off the bench, so we’ve kept him in that role. He’s our second-leading scorer.”
Larrañaga, who is in the midst of his fifth season with the Hurricanes, has built quite the program at Miami. He is closing in on his fourth 20-win season and has turned Miami into one of the top teams in the ACC.
“This is such a great league,” Larrañaga said. “I think the symbolic sign of what we’ve accomplished is every game this year is a sellout. When we first came here, we were averaging about 2,000, maybe 3,000 fans. Now we’re packed every night (with) 8,000 (fans). The students come and support the team. The community does. That really is what a player wants – to play in front of a packed house every night. We have that now here in Coral Gables.”
Miami (17-4, 6-3) plays at Georgia Tech (12-10, 2-7) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.