BYH, I just moved to Greenville with my lovely wife and two precious children and a dog. I was so happy when the...

McClelland's basketball bona fides


By Tony Castleberry
The Daily Reflector

Monday, August 29, 2016

As much as he brings to the table from a pure training standpoint, Justin McClelland’s experience at two basketball powerhouses might be just as beneficial for East Carolina’s team.

McClelland, hired by ECU in May to take over strength and conditioning for men’s hoops, brings a wealth of knowledge acquired in the classroom, but the lessons he learned working at Villanova and Florida — two programs with national championship banners hanging in their gyms — probably resonate more with Pirate players than McClelland’s degrees.

The fact that McClelland also played collegiate basketball at Eastern University in St. David’s, Pa., almost certainly helps him identify with East Carolina’s players as they prepare for the season. Those combined experiences, along with a desire to be in charge of a team’s training, turned McClelland’s attention to ECU.

“I was at a point in my career where I was ready to take hold of a program because I had worked as an assistant in the past,” he said during an interview in the Murphy Center on Thursday morning. “To have my own team was definitely a step forward. I just got really good vibes throughout my interview process with (strength and conditioning boss Jeff) Connors, hearing what he had to say. ... It’s a great environment for me as a staff member and the athletes.”

McClelland takes over Pirate basketball strength and conditioning for Matt Slachetka, who left ECU after being hired in June 2014.

After interning at Villanova during the 2014-15 season, McClelland, who graduated from Eastern in 2011 before adding a master’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania, trained Florida’s basketball squad last season. Having that kind of pedigree made him stand out in a field of some 200 applicants, according to Connors.

“After I interviewed him, I knew right away that he was my No. 1 guy I wanted to have here and I think that (Pirate basketball) coach (Jeff) Lebo felt the same way,” Connors said. “I really love the fact that he was at Villanova. ... Justin is the most learned individual that we’ve had thus far in relationship to knowledge of basketball.”

Summer workouts have begun paying dividends for East Carolina’s players, who hope to improve on last season’s 12-19 record, the worst mark during Lebo’s tenure with the Pirates. Entering his seventh season in charge at ECU, Lebo communicates with McClelland on an almost-daily basis to gauge gains and losses the Pirates are making.

The players did not necessarily enter summer training out of shape, but they lifted weights four days a week under McClelland’s guidance before transitioning into smaller group workouts three times a week. Conditioning work will ramp up as the season nears, but McClelland is of the opinion that if ECU’s team carries its offseason approach into the fall and winter, the Pirates will be prepared, and not just physically.

“Sometimes when you’re coaching guys, you can see a lot of stuff and coach them on a lot of different things and it can get a little overwhelming to the athlete at times,” McClelland said. “They’ve crushed it, in my opinion. They’ve been a really good group. I think the biggest thing we’re working on is our mental toughness, staying locked in throughout the entire training session. That will correlate onto the court as well.”


Contact Tony Castleberry at tcastleberry@reflector.com, 252-329-9591 and follow @tcastleberrygdr on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


October 15, 2018

East Carolina did not have a men’s or women’s basketball player lauded by the American Athletic Conference as a preseason all-conference pick.

The AAC released its preseason polls Monday, which had the ECU men 11th out of 12 teams and the Pirate women in eighth place.

UCF led the…


October 15, 2018

It is the time of year when perspectives can become very contrasting for college football teams depending on where they are in the standings.

Very often, the great teams already have found ways to survive and stay on top, whereas the hard-luck teams often continue to lament coming close but not…

UCF Memphis Football-14

October 15, 2018

The East Carolina football team is turning to true freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers for this week and with a long-term plan in mind for the 6-foot-3, 236-pound left-hander to be the leader of the ECU offense.

Coach Scottie Montgomery announced Monday during his weekly news conference that Ahlers,…


October 15, 2018

One thing that stands out with first-year coach Joe Dooley about the East Carolina basketball team’s big men is their potential.

The Pirates are not going to overpower many teams in the post — they’re tallest player is 6-foot-9 freshman Rico Quinton — and they are young, but…


October 15, 2018

It was easy to think back to East Carolina football’s successful run in Conference USA during Saturday night’s game against Houston at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The first reminder was Houston being the visiting team. The Cougars occupied the same visiting sideline Dec. 5, 2009, for a…


October 15, 2018

Things are tightening at the top between N.C. State, Appalachian State and Duke, but no changes again this week.

Here are The Daily Reflector’s updated in-state college football power rankings:

1. N.C. State

Record: 5-0.

Why No. 1? Because the Wolfpack is undefeated. The game many…

APTOPIX Boston College NC State Football-4

October 14, 2018

East Carolina’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams captured their first wins of the season Saturday, topping William & Mary on the road by a 136-126 score in each division.

Freshman Marek Osina, the latest American Athletic Conference swimmer of the week, led the ECU…


October 14, 2018

These three questions appeared in the Pirate Gameday section previewing the East Carolina-Houston football game, which ended as a 42-20 win for Houston that could have been more lopsided if not for a few late touchdowns by the Pirates.

Speaking of those touchdowns ... 

1. Which ECU quarterback…


October 13, 2018

A week-long theme of a possible new-look East Carolina football offense did not come to fruition Saturday night against Houston at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

On a night when ECU had its first announced crowd of less than 30,000 since the finale of the 2005 season, the Pirates used all three of their…


October 13, 2018

East Carolina’s football offense started too slow and delivered too little again on Saturday night in a 42-20 beating at the hands of visiting Houston.

From third-down miscues to an inability to reach the red zone to a touchdown drought that stretched seven full quarters, ECU (2-4, 0-3…

214 stories in ECU. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 22
        Next Page»   Last Page»