BRISTOL - Standing taller than seven feet, dunking a basketball is not much of a challenge for Bristol Central boys basketball standout Donovan Clingan.
The junior will always encounter a wide variety of opportunities to extend a slam over his smaller competition, but this year, it’s a mission.
As a way to work on being stronger at the basket, Clingan’s goal moving forward is to dunk the ball every single chance he has. Not only is it one the most effective shots in the game because it is hard to stop, it also sends a message to the other team that it is in for a long game.
“Coach always tells me, ‘put your elbows through the rim,’ which means that I should just be trying to dunk everything,” Clingan said. “That’s just going to make me a better scorer and stronger just by dunking. If you get a good dunk, it’s always going in.”
Clingan finished his game against Bristol Eastern last week with 37 points on 17 made field goals, which were almost entirely dunks. With no one nearly large enough to stop him, every time he touched the ball he was able to get above the rim uninhibited, including one dunk in the second quarter where it appeared he barely jumped two inches off the ground to get his hands on the rim.
“You notice the difference [against Bristol Eastern], he’s dunking everything,” head coach Tim Barrette said. “That’s a huge difference and that’s one of the things we’ve talked about to improve. He’s seven-foot, be strong and dunk everything you can.”
Clingan said he was lifting weights four or five times a week during the offseason to work on getting stronger. A versatile post scorer who will be challenged less by the pandemic-altered season, using these games to improve his strength with the ball will benefit him greatly against bigger competition. He likely will not be dunking as often against those opponents, but building that strength now will make him sturdier in the post and prevent him from being overpowered by defenders.
The other benefit to dunking a lot is it can be fun for both Clingan and everyone else in attendance that is not the team he is playing against. A powerful slam can send a burst of energy through the dunker, to his teammates and the crowd, but Clingan finds himself playing in quiet gyms during the time he’s put a premium on dunking, something he hopes can end soon. He said it was especially weird experiencing this at Eastern, when his last game there was filled to the brim with people, which created an intense environment for all attendance.
“I go dunk and I look to my right and there’s no fans, I’m like ‘oh, this is bad,’” Clingan said. “It brings energy, it gets us going.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org