Arizona senior forward Jawann McClellan has endured many different obstacles since entering the University of Arizona as a freshman in 2004. Injuries combined with academic setbacks and personal issues have unfortunately helped defined McClellan's college career up until now.
After learning of the death of his father in June of 2005, McClellan was forced to choose family over school and in turn was ruled academically ineligible for the fall semester of his sophomore year. In January of 2006, two games after his return to the court, McClellan injured his left wrist which required surgery, causing him to miss the rest of the season.
After the conclusion of the 2006 season, McClellan was slowed down with knee problems and a trip to the doctor revealed that he needed microscopic knee surgery to replace some missing cartilage.
That surgery significantly limited McClellan during his junior season, in which he averaged 12.6 points per game in November and December but just 7.3 points per game in January, February and March.
Off-season workouts with the team were limited for the Houston native, who has did his best to stay positive, despite knee issues that were threatening his basketball career.
With so much going against McClellan, five weeks this previous summer may have been the most important time span in his career.
In an effort to return to the basketball court this season as the same player who made the 2004 McDonald's All-American game, McClellan placed trust in the services of Robert Baxter and the team at BX Player Developmental Group.
Located in New York, the BX Player Developmental Group was established by Baxter, who is a former player at Fordham University where he ranks amongst the schools all time leaders in assists and three-point shooting.
On top of the programs that BX offers for all athletes, Baxter and company have a unique and intense program for athletes who want to improve on their skills, whether the individual plays football or basketball.
BX has worked with many players from around the country, including former Wildcats Mustafa Shakur and Ivan Radenovic.
While on a trip to Tucson in September of 2006, Baxter and performance trainer Reggie Hawkins met McClellan, who liked what he heard from the BX staff.
"(McClellan) was very impressed and interested in the type of training that we offer," Baxter said.
Baxter returned to Tucson this past spring as he helped Shakur prepare for the NBA Draft. McClellan became even more interested and felt that what the BX team was doing with Shakur could help him out as well.
"He expressed serious interest in training with me and my staff in New York for the entire off-season after he completed the first summer academic session," said Baxter. "He told me that he was determined to have an All-American type senior season in hopes of leading Arizona to the Final Four in 2008."
The injury riddled body of McClellan has left doubt in some Arizona fans but McClellan is determined to return to the player he was when he left high school. Training with BX could be the initial step for McClellan to reaching his potential as a basketball player.
"I watched what they were doing with Staf (Shakur) and liked what they were doing," said McClellan. "I felt that they would help me get to where I wanted to be as a ball player for this upcoming season."
Before making the trip to New York, Baxter visited Houston in May to get the training process started. In addition to the preliminary workouts, Baxter and McClellan sat down and drew up a training plan for McClellan to follow.
The preliminary sessions consisted of six foundation building workouts that would get McClellan ready for what would come in New York. He arrived ready for the first day of training on July 7th.
The BX team conducted basketball workouts that consisted of dribbling and shooting drills along with different type of therapy sessions to help strengthen McClellan's knees. These sessions continued everyday for six weeks in which McClellan said he was challenged every minute of each workout.
"The workouts were very demanding, especially when I was doing it by myself," said McClellan. "But they were good for me and the BX team took care of me. Every part of the workout helped me strengthen my knees again."
Each workout lasted anywhere between an hour to an hour and a half. They were not only designed to improve his basic basketball skills but also improve him physically.
"Our focus was not only on Jawann's game," explained Baxter, "But rather the strengthening of his body - particularly his legs and knees - so consequently my partner Dominic Zanot and I started his program with two basic but important lists."
As a highly respected conditioning program, BX makes sure that each athlete understands the type of philosophy that is practiced within their group. Each bullet point is a way to show their clients the amount of dedication that it takes to be the best athlete possible.
BX Player Developmental Group Training Philosophy
1. Train what is weak and it will become strong.
2. Train for a career (long term), not for tomorrow.
3. Healthy, powerful/strong, flexible will lead to success.
The philosophies broken down by the BX group ties into what McClellan is determined to do in order to be one of the best players he can be. He bought into the ideologies and was ready for a new challenge.
In addition to understanding the philosophies, McClellan must stay loyal to the second list made by former USA olympic weightlifting coach and renowned New York physical therapist Marc Chasnov who provides consultation and treatment for athletes who train with BX.
Non-Negotiable for McClellan
1. Knee health is #1 priority.
2. Aggressive massage daily before every workout which is needed to grind out tons of so called "junk" from behind his knee to enable full range of motion in the leg, therefore allowing him to work out in the necessary manner without pain or soreness.
3. Train hard - but listen to your body.
4. Healthy eating at all times with a very high water intake daily.
5. Static and/or Dynamic stretching daily.
McClellan's diet was a necessary change during the six week period in which he was required to only put healthy foods in his body.
"I had three meals a day during the process which included a lot of water also," said McClellan. "For breakfast I would eat fruits and for lunch and dinner I would pretty much be eating chicken everyday."
That diet combined with being in the weight room with Zanot, BX's Strength and Speed Specialist, worked effectively on McClellan.
"Working with Dom (Zanot) wasn't easy," said McClellan. "He instituted an Olympic style weight lifting into my workouts and it took every ounce of energy I had to complete them. He pushed me to the limit and in the end it worked out for me."
McClellan began the program at 213 pounds, which is around ten pounds heavier than when he arrived on campus as a Wildcat. At the conclusion of the six-week program, McClellan dropped down to 203 pounds.
"That is about the weight that I want to be at this point," said McClellan. "That's what I was when I left high school and it'll also be easier on my knees. As a result I'm much faster, quicker, and better prepared for this season."
The future for McClellan looks brighter since completing the program with the BX Player Developmental Group. However, this past summer will not be the last time that Baxter and McClellan will meet up.
"I definitely plan on going back to New York next spring because it is a good opportunity to get me ready for future, no matter what the plans will be."
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