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Jawann McClellan: A freshman no longer

By Roman Vetysman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Saturday, March 19 2005

BOISE, Idaho - “Get Ready!”

That’s what junior forward Hassan Adams has been telling the Arizona freshmen all season long.

“Because you never know when your time will come,” Adams said.

The time is now for the UA freshmen, especially freshman forward Jawann McClellan, the first man off the bench in Arizona’s first round win over Utah State Thursday.

McClellan tallied seven points and five rebounds in the game and gave the Wildcats 25 quality minutes. At this point in the season, McClellan no longer considers himself a freshman and neither do his teammates.

“No one’s a freshman anymore,” said senior center Channing Frye, McClellan’s roommate and self proclaimed brother on the road. “Jawann has steadily been there all year for us. He knows his role and what he has to do for this team.”

McClellan was not a regular in the rotation early in the year but head coach Lute Olson was always on him at practice, stressing defense and intensity. Olson’s pushing became so common that McClellan worries when Olson stops talking to him.

“Coach Olson has pushed me so much because I had to be this great player,” McLellan said. “Sometimes you try to see what he sees in you and why he pushes you so hard. I get nervous when he stops talking to me.”

During McClellan’s high school career, he said he worked hard but put in nowhere near the effort he has had to put in at Arizona.

The hard work he puts in at practice has been the key to receiving playing time from Olson, who often bases minutes on the past week’s practice. There has been a difference in McClellan’s game and it has come as result of the experience and support from the team.

“I’ve matured a lot, especially my work ethic,” McClellan said. “The coaches have a lot of confidence me and my teammates have a lot of confidence in me. I’m not afraid to shoot the ball.”

McClellan’s confidence to shoot the ball could be witnessed Thursday when he shot it six times, making half of his attempts. He was not afraid to let it fly from the 3-point line in the first half when Arizona was down by three and he wasn’t afraid in the Pacific 10 Conference tournament when he took 21 shots in three games, shooting over 50 percent. In fact, McClellan has shot 55.3 percent in his last 10 games while averaging 16.8 minutes per game, the most for any non-starter.

In his first NCAA tournament, McCllelan is taking in the sights and sounds from the environment and from the Wildcats that have been there before.

”It’s been a great experience,” McClellan said. “It makes it special that everybody can’t experience something like that.”

Even showing his I.D. every time he walked into the building has made McClellan proud to be taking part in the tournament.

McClellan’s more experienced teammates have given him some words of wisdom, the same wisdom they received from Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, and Rick Anderson.

“Stay aggressive, stay humble, and work hard every day and the time will come for you,” Adams tells him. “I’ve been in the same shoes and I know at any time you have to be ready.”

Along with his fellow freshmen, McClellan has soaked in the advice, and it has allowed him to thrive on the big stage.

“Me and the other freshmen have just been enjoying it,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

McClellan said he couldn’t even sleep before facing Utah State in the first round because he was so anxious to get out there and play. When he did get out there, he was more than awake and while he didn’t take over the game, his teammates have told him that he can.

“Even while they’re still around, they’re telling me to take over this year,” McClellan said of Adams, Frye, and Salim Stoudamire. “That shows they have so much confidence in me when you have three of the nation’s best players telling you to go to score.”

McClellan is still listed as a freshman but Adams said McCllelan doesn’t play like one. “He’s playing great right now,” Adams said. “He’s helping us in ways that he’s supposed to. He’s been here long enough where he doesn’t need to play like a freshman. It’s around the time when you have to start playing like a sophomore.”

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