Seven-foot sophomore Donovan Clingan draws a lot of attention when he walks into a gym.
“Jaws drop and you go wow,” said Bristol Central head coach Tim Barrette.
“Seventh grade, eighth grade going into freshman year, I realized how big I actually am,” said Clingan.
His height gives him an advantage, but his skill is what gives defenses a major problem.
“They will smack me when I go for layups and then look at the refs and be like, 'I don’t know what you want me to do, he’s seven feet tall,” Clingan said with a smile.
Despite this season being cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak, Clingan had a breakout sophomore year. He led the Rams to a 16-5 record while playing in front of sold out crowds and drawing national media attention.
Even with two more full seasons of high school basketball ahead, Donovan has already received scholarship offers to play college basketball at UConn, Syracuse, Georgetown, Providence and UMass.
“I’m just trying to stay humble,” said Clingan. “It’s obviously a blessing and a great opportunity.”
“He handles it very humbly, better than most 16-year-olds could ever,” said Barrette. “He works hard. He’s always in the gym first and out of the gym last.”
This type of success runs in the family. Look no further than Donovan’s mom, Stacey.
“She brought basketball into my life,” said Clingan.
Stacey Porrini Clingan played basketball at Bristol Central from 1989-1993. She died of breast cancer in 2018 when Donovan was in the eigthth grade.
“When she passed away, it flicked a switch and made me work harder,” Donovan said.
“I can’t wait to see Clingan and Porrini with their names next to each other in the record books,” added Barrette.
Stacey set the school’s all-time rebounding record and attended the University of Maine after receiving 67 scholarship offers. She never got to see Donovan play at her alma mater.
“Me and her both, we never knew I was going to be what I am today,” Donovan said.
Playing on the same court his mom did, she’s never far from his mind.
“If things are getting a little heated, I just think about what she would want to do in that situation and what would make her happy,” said Clingan.
“Stacey came into school here and dominated, great person and that’s the same thing with Donovan,” Barrette said.
A bright basketball future awaits the 16-year-old. In the meantime, he just wants to make his family and hometown proud.
“I’m trying to put Bristol back on the map,” said Clingan. “People don’t really know about us so it’s important to me to make sure people do."