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UConn men’s basketball star Donovan Clingan declares for NBA Draft

Donovan Clingan has declared for the 2024 NBA Draft.

The 7-foot-2 sophomore from Bristol announced his decision on social media Friday after it was originally reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, just four days after winning a second consecutive national title with the UConn men’s basketball team. Clingan was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks over six double-digit victories.

“First and foremost, BACK TO BACK National Championships is legendary! These past two years have exceeded all my dreams and expectations. I will be forever grateful for the memories created with all my brothers, and I’ll cherish every moment forever!” his post read.

“I’d like to thank my dad, my sister, my grandma, Maddie and the rest of my family and close friends for supporting and guiding me through my journey and pushing me to be my best. To Coach Hurley, Coach Kimani, Coach Murray and Coach Moore, thank you for believing in the kid from Connecticut and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. You have all changed my life and I’ll be forever grateful for the impact you’ve had on me. I love you guys. To my Mom, my biggest inspiration, I’ll continue to work my hardest to make you proud!”

Clingan started 33 of the 35 games he played this year, missing five games to a foot injury, and averaged 13 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on the season. Nicknamed “Cling Kong,” he stepped into the lead frontcourt role after a year as the understudy to Adama Sanogo, 2023 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, in which he averaged 6.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 13.1 minutes per game as a true freshman.

“I’ll be pursuing the lifelong dream of mine to play in the NBA and will be entering my name in the 2024 NBA Draft!! It will be very hard for me to leave my brothers after all the success these past two years, but the time is NOW!” his post continued.

Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Today show Friday that Clingan is “absolutely in the conversation to be the No. 1 overall pick.”

“Tremendous shot-blocker, tremendous physical instincts around the basket, his offensive game has grown rapidly and this is as fundamentally sound as a young American big man as you’ve seen come in the draft,” Wojnarowski said. “And a great example for young players that you don’t have to go away to a prep school, to a basketball factory, to develop into a great player.”

Mock drafts from Bleacher Report, the Ringer, and USA Today all have the former Bristol Central star slotted in as the No. 6 overall pick. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony projected him to go No. 3 overall, but echoed the same sentiment about the No. 1 overall spot.

Freshman teammate Stephon Castle is also expected to become a lottery pick, though he hasn’t yet announced his decision.