Cedric Clinkscales is focused on creating a positive legacy for himself on and off the Western basketball court.
The 6-7 230-pound big-man leads the Griffons in points and rebounds while being the only member of the team to make the Dean’s Honor Roll, which requires a 3.5 grade point average or better.
“It’s big for me,” Clinkscales said. “That’s the first time it’s ever happened. It’s just showing that I’m trying to be committed to school for real this time. I’m serious about it.”
In the past, basketball was his main focus and he didn’t put as much emphasis on academics. It was fatherhood and time away from the game that transformed his outlook to classroom first.
Clinkscales, father of two, put his basketball career on hold when his first son was born. He knew he needed to work and be there for support. Once he was able to save up some money, he gave school and basketball another try. He came back a much more mature person than before.
“I have kids that are going to look up to me now so I have to set a good example,” Clinkscales said. “When I had my son, I noticed how much he looked up to me so I didn’t want him to see me doing anything bad.”
Clinkscales hails from Anderson, South Carolina, which is a very small town. He attended T.L. Hanna High School, which is famous for being the setting for the movie Radio. He played at Roane State Community College last season in Tennessee and averaged 13.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while being an all-conference selection. He was recruited by Western assistant coach Mike Nicholson and committed after taking a visit because he liked the people and the campus.
“We thought we had a pretty good player and several other coaches in the league felt like we got a pretty good player,” coach Tom Smith said.
According to Smith, some coaches won’t recruit players with children of their own, but that issue isn’t of any importance to him when looking for prospective athletes. That policy is paying off for Smith with Clinkscales as he’s shown to be very reliable in doing the things he’s supposed to do.
“I think having kids changes the outlook on things and puts things in perspective for what you focus on,” Smith said. “Some guys in college fool around and have a good time. I don’t think that’s Cedric.”
Clinkscales has been the big man in the paint for the Griffons this season, averaging 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and impacts the game defensively with steals and blocks. His great spin move and soft touch around the basket often result in him getting double-teamed by the opposition.
“It’s all about trust, my teammates trusting me and getting me the ball in a position to where I can make some plays,” Clinkscales said.
Smith knows that Clinkscales is going to have to come up big if the Griffons are going to get hot at the end of a losing season.
“He’s shown that he’s as good as big man as there is in the league,” Smith said. “The only thing that has affected his overall performance a little has been some injuries.”
Clinkscales is the only Griffon to start all 25 games so far, but he’s played through several injuries including a hurt hand, shoulder and a sprained ankle that kept him out of action during part of the first half of Saturday’s game. He came back and fought through the injury to finish out the game and relies on trainer Myron Unzicker to help him be at his best physically.
“Myron is my lifeline,” Clinkscales said. “I go to him for everything and he helps me stay on the court. Myron is my best friend right now.”
Clinkscales has learned that MIAA competition is tough and any team in the league is capable of fighting for a win on any given night. He’s seen some pretty good big men this season, but none that he’s scared of.
He plans to earn his degree in Sports Management with hopes that it opens up the door for him to pursue a coaching career in basketball. Until then, he plans to finish out this season strong with a tournament appearance.