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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

McClinton ranks right up there with Sikeston's best ever

Sunday, March 9, 2003

So just how good is Lontas McClinton?

Well, in my short experience of Sikeston hoops, I would certainly say he's one of the best in school history.

I think that's obvious and I don't think anybody would dispute that.

The greatest player in Sikeston history is anybody's guess. Many of the old-schoolers think it's Fred Towns, the dominant 6-5 center in the late 1960s.

Although I've heard all the stories on Towns, that was before my time.

I would say any kind of meaningful knowledge I have of Sikeston hoops dates back to 1987.

So I can only compare McClinton to players I've seen during that span.

I'd hate to rank the top players, but I'll throw some names out there for you to ponder.

First the obvious ones that received all-state, like Tiger Boyd ('91), Jermaine Harrington ('94), Steven Geralds ('95), Allen Hatchett ('95) and Bryan Ellitt ('99 and '00).

Then you have others that were snubbed of all-state honors like Lee Turner ('89) and Eric Patterson ('93).

And still yet, you have good players that were overlooked because they played on bad teams like John Sanders ('97) and Tony Jones ('01).

So with all those names, here is my top five in no particular order: McClinton, Hatchett, Geralds, Patterson and Ellitt.

That's just my opinion based on what I've seen.

Of all those players, like Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said in my accompanying story, McClinton got more defensive attention than any of them.

Of course, those guys were on some of Sikeston's best teams.

McClinton is one of the great athletes I've seen come through Sikeston.

He has the same kind of explosiveness that was seen in current Mizzou football player Brandon Barnes, except McClinton took it to a different level.

It's scary to think what McClinton could do in a football or track uniform.

But in choosing not to play those sports, he was busy honing his skills on the hardcourt. The improvement he made year after year was evident.

His shot got better, his ball-handling improved and so did his athleticism.

He pulled off some of the most amazing slam dunks that at times left you sitting there thinking, "How'd he do that?"

I've always been an advocate that the more sports you play, the better an athlete you will be.

But McClinton was an exception to the rule.

And one of the more impressive things about McClinton is the fact that he dominated some outstanding teams.

He didn't build up great stats against the weaker teams. He saved his best for the Poplar Bluffs, the Charlestons, the Parkway Centrals, the Madisons, etc.

And no matter what these teams put on him, he still could not be stopped.

The only thing that ever stopped him was fouls. That was the only way to keep him from taking over the game.

I don't know if I've ever seen a Sikeston player produce like that with that kind of attention.

Ellitt averaged a double-double for two years, but even he didn't receive the kind of defensive attention that McClinton did.

Here's hoping that Lontas can get into a college that he enjoys and is able to continue his playing career.

With the talent he's got and some fine-tuning of his perimeter skills, he's got the tools to be a very nice player on the next level.