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Mac McClung showcased dream-like athleticism on Saturday night in the 2023 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Despite having played only two games of professional basketball – neither during this season – he stole the show, and some have argued he left a lasting impression on fans. His sudden rise to prominence was unexpected but welcomed by most as they watched him soar above the competition.
The star put on an awe-inspiring performance of four spectacular dunks, earning a perfect score for each one and claiming victory. In doing so, McClung joined basketball icons Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, and Michael Jordan as some of dunking’s greatest ever – all in just one night.
Mac McClung made an unbelievable leap from the G-League straight to Slam Dunk champion! Let’s explore this remarkable athlete through his life and career.
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McClung may not be well-known in the NBA, but his skills as a dunker are legendary!
He electrified audiences when he first began dunking at Gate City High School and soon became an internet sensation with 821k followers on Instagram. So it was no shock when McClung qualified for the All-Star Weekend – dwarfing some of his other competitors’ combined follower counts along the way.
On Saturday, NBA hopeful Nick McClung had an impressive dunking accomplishment – he won the Ball is Life All-American Dunk Contest. With his victorious performance, he beat two stellar opponents – Kevin Porter Jr., now a Houston Rockets guard, and Shareef O’Neal, son of legendary basketball star Shaquille. Congrats to McClung for this slam dunk feat.
McClung’s reputation as a dunker rocketed him up the recruiting ladder, but his play on the court was no less impressive. He put on two unbelievable seasons of high school basketball and lit it up to an average of 29 points per game during his junior year before capping off with a staggering 47-point scoring performance at the Virginia state championship game.
His incredible form convinced Patrick Ewing – who had been pursuing McClung since day one –to swoop in and secure the rising star for Georgetown University.
College basketball career
McClung brought fresh energy to Georgetown’s program when he joined in 2017. His rookie season was full of promise, averaging over 13 points per game and pushing the team towards a 19-14 record – not bad for introducing himself onto such an illustrious court.
Although he fell short of fan expectations going into his sophomore season, there is no doubt that McClung left quite the impression during his brief tenure with this storied basketball juggernaut.
Daniel Hanzen reported to the Washington Post that NBA teams were looking for his client, who had played at Georgetown off-ball, to transition into more of a point guard role. Unfortunately, the opportunity wasn’t readily available in college, which limited him from showcasing this facet of his game – but now he has every chance to prove himself as an elite facilitator.
Following the 2019-20 season, Georgetown guard James Akinjo became yet another player to transfer away from Patrick Ewing’s unsatisfying roster – a lineup that had heavily prioritized guards. Luckily for Mac McClung, his transfer out of Hoya territory and into Texas Tech Red Raiders brought an anticipated point-guard renaissance.
Sadly, he was disappointed, as his average assists per game decreased from 2.4 to 2.1 during his one-year campaign with TTU. This prompted him to once again declare for the NBA draft this past April.
After three roller-coaster college seasons, McClung set out on his path to NBA stardom. He first signed a Summer League deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021 and impressed them enough to merit a two-way contract. However, he was ultimately waived before being signed by South Bay of the G League, where he averaged almost 20 points per game.
In December of that same year, he scored an opportunity for one night with The Chicago Bulls. But, after some short stints as a free agent at Golden State Warriors Preseason games, McCLunng is still searching for that elusive full-time slot into professional basketball’s elite league.
After proving himself as an effective scorer, Shake Milton has recently demonstrated he’s also a prolific playmaker. Spending time in the G League with affiliate Delaware Blue Coats, Milton averaged 5.8 assists per game over two seasons and increased his rebounding numbers too – enough to pique the interest of NBA side Philadelphia 76ers, who have now signed him. On Tuesday, they agreed on a two-way deal allowing them to call upon Milton for regular season games when necessary.
McClung’s basketball future
Over the next two months, McClung will shuttle between Delaware and Philadelphia according to the needs of the 76ers. Then, at season’s end, he’ll become a free agent with his sights set on securing an NBA contract — if not, another G League deal could be in store for him.
After electrifying the crowd with a dazzling dunk display, McClung confirmed that he’d return to defend his title should the NBA invite him back for next season’s contest. The competition will surely heat up, with superstar Zion Williamson hinting at throwing his name into the mix.
McClung has become an overnight celebrity, cemented as one of basketball’s lasting icons and a shoo-in for next year’s contest. His remarkable success signals that he is primed to reign dominantly over the competition for years.