Jul. 4—Donovan Clingan committed to play basketball at UConn mere hours after his official visit to the school ended on Friday. In truth, the Bristol Central High rising senior had essentially decided to become a Husky long before.
His coach with the Rams, Tim Barrette, said many of the big-time schools who were recruiting the 7-foot-1 center gave him the same words of advice.
"All the coaches he met from (Michigan's) Juwan Howard to (UConn's Dan) Hurley told him you'll know it's right when you walk in the gym," Barrette said Saturday morning. "And he told me 'I knew it was the right place when I first walked in there two years ago.' "
Clingan also visited Michigan, Syracuse, and Ohio State recently, but felt Storrs was still the place for him.
"I just felt like every time I went there, I was happy," Clingan said Sunday. "And my relationship with the coaches was better than anywhere else."
Clingan, ranked No. 44 in the Class of 2022 by rivals.com, averaged 27.3 points, 17.2 rebounds, and 5.8 blocks during his junior season at Bristol Central.
He felt his best college basketball option was the one closest to his hometown.
"He's a proud kid and he's proud of where he's from," Barrette said.
"He told me 'I want to go to UConn. Why do I have to wait?' " Barrette added. "Kentucky came in the picture last week, North Carolina, but he was set on going to UConn."
So much so that Clingan couldn't wait long after leaving Storrs Friday to make his decision known to the larger college basketball world. Clingan told Hurley he was UConn-bound Friday evening, doing so at a cookout at the coach's house.
Clingan is the second member of UConn's Class of 2022, joining 6-foot-4, Roselle, New Jersey, guard Corey Floyd.
Behind Clingan, Bristol Central went 15-0 in the CIAC's abbreviated 2020-21 season, which did not include a state tournament.
The Rams did win the Central Connecticut Conference tournament, beating heavyweights Windsor, Northwest Catholic, and East Catholic to claim the title.
"He didn't just play well, he dominated," Barrette said of the CCC Tournament. "That solidified what we already knew about him."
Having made his college decision before his senior year gets underway, Clingan says he's focused on bringing a state championship home to Bristol Central. And soon after, bring a fifth national championship home to Storrs.
"That's the goal," Clingan said.
Clingan is the Huskies' biggest in-state recruit — in more ways than one — since Middletown's Andre Drummond came on board just weeks prior to the 2011-12 season.
In addition to the familiarity and the proximity to home, Clingan said one of the reasons he chose UConn was because Hurley and his staff made it clear how important he was to their plans.
"I don't want to sound cocky or anything but they told me I was their biggest target in my class. And they said if I came there, other players would follow," Clingan said. "They also said they weren't recruiting another big, that I was their top priority."
With Floyd and Clingan having given their verbal pledges, UConn's recruiting class is already an impressive one. And Clingan expects Hurley to keep adding key pieces.
"He's bringing in a lot of good players around me. There's a bright future," Clingan said.
The prospects for both Clingan and the Huskies look promising, but after putting his big decision behind him, Clingan is taking a brief respite.
"I'm in Cape Cod for the week, relaxing," Clingan said. "Then it's back to work."
Neill covers UConn men's basketball and UConn football teams, and he keeps a finger on the pulse of Connecticut sports. For live game updates, and more insight into UConn athletics, player transfers, and team changes, follow Neill on Twitter: @NeillOstrout, Facebook: JINeillO, and Instagram: @NeillOstrout.