Kevin McLinton, former Maryland men’s basketball point guard, dies at 52

Kevin McLinton, who shaped himself into the top facilitator for the Maryland men’s basketball program in his final three seasons from 1990 to 1993, died Thursday morning. He was 52.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Earlier Thursday, McLinton posted a photo of himself in a hospital to his Facebook account. “Looking for some prayers!!! Could definitely use them,” he wrote.

“The Maryland Men’s Basketball family mourns the passing of former guard Kevin McLinton, who played 91 games as a Terp and was a co-captain his senior season,” the Terps program posted on X, formerly Twitter. “We send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.”

In 91 games from 1989 to 1993 under then-new coach Gary Williams, McLinton averaged 11.3 points, 5.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound point guard still ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list in assists per game and ninth in total assists with 469.

Jerrod Mustaf, whose sophomore season in 1989-90 overlapped with McLinton’s freshman year, said he has known McLinton since they were teenagers at one of Morgan Wootten’s summer basketball camps at DeMatha High in Hyattsville when Mustaf was a counselor and McLinton was a camper.

Mustaf — who spent four seasons in the NBA, including the last three with the Phoenix Suns — said the 1989-90 squad struggled to find consistency at the point guard position.

“Every team he played on in our scrimmages, they were winning. He was just so talented,” Mustaf recalled. “We [Mustaf and Tony Massenburg] gave him the nickname ‘Juice’ because we thought he resembled O.J. Simpson when O.J. Simpson was running through the airport in that commercial. This was back in ’89. We used to say, ‘Oh, that’s Juice.’”

As a senior for the 1992-93 season, McLinton served as co-captain along with power forward Evers Burns, a Woodlawn graduate, and enjoyed career highs in points (15.8 per game) and assists (6.3). His average assists total that year ranks eighth on the program’s single-season list, and he led the Terps in assists for three consecutive seasons from 1990 to 1993.

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The son of former Washington linebacker Harold McLinton, Kevin McLinton grew up in Silver Spring and helped Springbrook High capture Class 4A state championships in basketball (1987-88) and football (1988) before enrolling at Maryland. Younger brother Darren McLinton averaged 13.0 points, 2.3 assists and 1.8 rebounds in four seasons at James Madison, which was coached by the late Lefty Driesell, who had helmed the Terps from 1969 to 1986.

McLinton’s son Kevin “KJ” McLinton Jr. recently completed his freshman year at Wakefield High in Arlington, Virginia, contributing to a basketball team that went 21-5 and won the Liberty District title while earning a spot on the All-District defensive team.

As proud as he was of his son, McLinton was the type to reach out to friends to congratulate them for their accomplishments and those of their family members. Mustaf said McLinton was one of the first people to contact him when Mustaf’s son, Jaeden Mustaf, committed to play at Georgia Tech.

“We’re going to miss him,” Jerrod Mustaf said, adding that the 1989-90 team has lost forwards Rodney Walker (Cardinal Gibbons) and Kevin Chamberlain, guard Teyon McCoy and now McLinton. “Miss the conversations, just miss having one of our fellow Terps around. It’s just a devastating loss for the community.”

This story might be updated.