Over the weekend, Gonzaga continued to add to what should be considered the most talented roster in the history of the program, as former Vanderbilt guard, Eric McClellan, committed following his visit. McClellan was dismissed from the Vanderbilt program last season, but after meeting with the coaching staff and University, may have found the perfect fit for his skill set.
Below is an exclusive interview we conducted with McClellan immediately following his public commitment. We want to thank Eric for not only discussing his decision, but also being open about what he learned from some of his mistakes while at Vanderbilt. We wanted to kick off the interview with this note from Eric to the fans of Gonzaga:
To the fans, I just want to express my gratitude and thanks to you guys for accepting me into such a great culture. I'm blessed to be apart of it & hopefully, I can give you guys what you want. GO ZAGS!:
TSSF: For those that haven't had a chance to see you play at Vandy, how would you describe your game? What do you think are your biggest strengths that you have on the court?
Eric McClellan: My strengths would be my ability to score on all 3 levels, utilizing my speed, vision, ability to make teammates better & ability to guard multiple positions.
TSSF: Let's talk a little bit about your time after Vanderbilt. What did you learn from the incidents that led to your dismissal and how do you think it has helped you grow?
Eric McClellan: My incidents have taught me a lot of things in many areas and aspects of my life. For the first time in a very long time, I was able to release a lot of my thoughts & slow things down. Ive been able to learn how to handle extreme adversities, while maintaining my growth. Obviously, when everything happened, it was the lowest I've been in my life but I just continued to pray, I held myself accountable to everything that I did & I was determined to make things right. I've grown so much in these past 6 months but it's not all me; it's the people that are around me. God has truly blessed me with brilliant people to nurture me not only during this time but moving forward as well.
TSSF: Gonzaga recruited you after your transfer from Tulsa and also after Vanderbilt. What is it about your game that you think makes you such a good fit for this program?
Eric McClellan: Well, this program is known for success on the court but it goes deeper than just basketball. It's the people that make the culture great. It's the people that you establish and nurture relationships with. It's the degree that you're fortunate enough to walk away with.
TSSF: What were some of the things that stood out on your visit to Gonzaga? Do you feel like you were able to develop a relationship with a staff and any of the players on your visit?
Eric McClellan: The city of Spokane is absolutely beautiful. It has a lot of tradition & I feel that Gonzaga will continue to help me grow as a person, which is the most important thing. I was able to workout with a couple of guys & got to speak with Kyle, Angel & Gary and they were all great guys to communicate with. As far as the coaching staff goes, I trust them--that's what it boils down to. It has to be an extreme trust factor especially in a delicate situation like this. Coach Lloyd and the rest of the staff, including academic support have worked tremendously hard for my future and I truly can't express my gratitude enough to everyone there.
TSSF: Were there any other schools that recruited you as hard as Gonzaga when you turned your attention again to recruiting?
Eric McClellan: I had a couple of schools: Creighton, UNLV, Illinois, Florida State, Missouri, UCLA, Cal & Gonzaga. But it brings me to my last point--not one of those schools worked as hard as Gonzaga for my future and that's what ultimately separated the other institutions from Gonzaga.
TSSF: In terms of eligibility for next season, are you expecting and planning to be eligible to play at the start of second semester, or is there a chance you could be ready at the start of the season?
Eric McClellan: Right now, the plan is that I'll be eligible by December but hopefully, we'll be able to get a waiver so I'll be eligible right away. Either way, whichever situation presents itself, I'm just grateful for the opportunity & I have to prepare the same no matter what happens. I plan to be in Spokane before school starts so most likely around mid-August.