BRISTOL - His pursuit of the most prestigious honor in the state may have been cut short this season, but Bristol Central sophomore center Donovan Clingan continues to accumulate accolades for his remarkable second season with the Rams.
The young seven-footer was named the high school boys basketball Player of the Year for the State of Connecticut by MaxPreps on Friday after averaging 24.5 points, 16.7 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game while leading Central to a 16-4 regular season record and the fourth-seed in the Division II state tournament.
“It’s a great feeling, but I’m just trying to stay humble and not letting it get to me,” Clingan said. “I’m not satisfied yet.”
Clingan was one of three sophomores to receive the honor out of 51 high school players from each of the 50 states and Washington D.C. The other two were Jaden Bradley (North Carolina), who is the eighth-ranked recruit for the class of 2022 according to rivals.com and Emoni Bates (Michigan), the top overall recruit for this year’s sophomore class.
“It’s truly a blessing,” Clingan said. “I’m realizing a lot of the hard work is paying off, but there is still a lot more work needed to put in.”
Despite not having the opportunity to compete for a state championship, Clingan reflects on this season positively and wants to use it as motivation to come back and be better next season to make the postseason run that got away this year.
“I was very proud of the team,” Clingan said. “From coaching to all the players, we had a great bond and we were a true family.”
Clingan scored his 1,000th career point in what would unknowingly be his final game of the season when he dropped 28 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks in an 85-48 loss to East Catholic in the quarterfinals of the CCC Tournament. He finished that game three points shy of the school’s single-season scoring record and never had another chance to take the court.
Clingan was still able to etch his name in the Rams’ record books this season when he posted his second triple-double of the season in a win over Middletown. He notched 34 points, 22 rebounds and a school-record 15 blocks for his second triple double of the season. His third one came in the first round of the CCC Tournament, when the Rams took down New Britain behind Clingan’s 37-28-10 stat line, which avenged a loss to the Hurricanes from earlier in the season.
“He’s never satisfied,” head coach Tim Barrette said of his young star. “There’s games he comes off, he has 28 [points] and 20 [rebounds] and he’s like ‘coach, I played awful tonight.’ He’s always wanting to be better. That’s something as a coach, you don’t teach, that’s either instilled inside you. A lot of players don’t have it. I always say he has the ‘It’ factor, he wants to be great.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org