Gonzaga Basketball: Bulldogs Land Another Impact Transfer in Eric McClellan

Hayden DeitrickFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2014

Vanderbilt guard Eric McClellan plays against Georgia State in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Gonzaga basketball picked up yet another impact transfer on Sunday, as it was reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports that former Vanderbilt guard Eric McClellan will commit to playing for the Bulldogs next season.

McClellan is a 6’4” guard who averaged 14.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 12 games for Vanderbilt last season. He is renowned for his athleticism and his ability to score in volumes.

This latest transfer to Gonzaga bolsters what was already an incredibly deep backcourt that featured three-year starters Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., as well as USC transfer Byron Wesley who committed to Gonzaga just a few weeks back.

Unlike the penalty-free transfer of Wesley, though, McClellan and Gonzaga will have some work to do to get the new guard on the court this season due to extenuating circumstances from his earlier dismissal from Vanderbilt this summer.

According to an ESPN Report done in conjunction with The Associated Press, McClellan was suspended from the team during the spring semester for “violating academic policy” and was later dismissed from the team following an arrest for “misdemeanor charge of theft under $500.”

Rothstein writes that in order for McClellan to become academically eligible, he will have to complete “three separate courses over the next seven weeks. Once those courses are completed, McClellan will be eligible to play during the second semester of next season.”

There is, however, a chance that he could apply for a waiver to play immediately.

The value that McClellan could add to this already deep backcourt is almost immeasurable. Just a few weeks ago, Gonzaga’s greatest weakness was the absence of a tall, athletic, scoring wing. 

Now, Gonzaga has two wings in McClellan and Wesley who will contend for serious minutes in Mark Few’s rotation.

With McClellan and Wesley using their athleticism to push the ball in transition and slash through the lane, three-point gunners Pangos and Bell should be freed up to shoot more.

I could go on and on about the possibilities that adding McClellan to this backcourt creates, but there will be plenty of time to discuss that as the season approaches.

I will say, however, that the theme that McClellan’s decision continues for the Zags is that of transfer athletes searching for a winning environment and a place to continue to grow their talents choosing to come play at Gonzaga.

This goes back to Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer, who chose Gonzaga for its winning mentality and its ability to help him add strength to his finesse game, and Byron Wesley, who after three years of playing at USC, decided to come to Spokane because he wanted a chance to play competitive games in March.

Should this Gonzaga team be as successful as some analysts believe it can be, Mark Few may have a greater influx of talented basketball players in the vein of McClellan flocking to play in his system.