Donovan Clingan committed to UConn at Dan Hurley's cookout: 'It felt like home. It felt right'

Photo of David Borges

Before Donovan Clingan headed out for a week’s vacation to Cape Cod on Saturday afternoon, he had a cookout to attend on Friday evening.

It was at UConn coach Dan Hurley’s house in Glastonbury, with most of UConn’s current team and staff on-hand. Clingan also had some important news to deliver at the cookout: he was committing to the Huskies.

“My relationship with that staff was the best of any of the schools I was visiting or being recruited by,” Clingan, the 7-foot-1, 265-pound center from Bristol Central High, told Hearst Connecticut Media on Saturday morning. “I feel like it felt like home, it felt right. I got along with the team very well. Coach Hurley’s bringing in a lot of good players that are gonna be around me. I see us doing good things in college.”

Clingan, rated No. 44 in the nation by 247Sports’ composite rankings, had made official visits to Syracuse, Michigan and Ohio State. Rutgers, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Providence also made his final list of eight schools.

But it was his the official visit to UConn, during which he spent a lot of time with sophomores Andre Jackson and Adama Sanogo and freshman Rahsool Diggins, on Thursday and Friday that sealed the deal.

“(Hurley) thinks that when I get there, I can develop myself into being an NBA player,” said Clingan, who still has one more high school season this winter at Bristol Central. “I believe that he can do that for me. Obviously, I have to put the work in and stuff, but with him as a coach, I feel like he can help me a lot. He thinks that me and the other guys coming in around me can lead to the fifth national championship.”

Tom Moore was Clingan’s lead recruiter, but he had plenty of help from some of UConn’s current players — most notably Diggins, who proclaimed on Wednesday that “We’re going to get Big Donovan. He’ll be here.”

Two days later, Diggins was proven correct.

“They were pitching in on the recruiting, too,” Clingan said, with a laugh, about some of his future teammates. “They’re all great people up there.”

Clingan, who has also made unofficial visits to UConn, chose to play his high school career at hometown Bristol Central, rather than take the prep school route as most top national recruits do. But UConn’s proximity to home was’t really a factor in his decision, he said.

“When I went to UConn, I was happy whenever I visited there,” Clingan noted. “It always felt right. I think it was time to make the decision.”

Clingan is UConn’s second Class of 2022 commit, joining New Jersey’s Corey Floyd, Jr., who pledged to the Huskies in January.

Now, it’s off to the Cape for a week, followed by a summer, then a basketball season without having to deal with the pressures of making a college decision.

Clingan led Bristol Central to a 15-0 record this season and the Central Connecticut Bracket I Championship in March. He averaged 27.3 points, 17.2 rebounds, 5.8 blocks and 3.1 assists per game to earn GameTimeCT Most Valuable Player honors. He was also named Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year and was one of three finalists for Gatorade’s National Player of the Year, along with Gonzaga-bound Chet Holmgren (who won the award) and Auburn pledge Jabari Smith.

“It’s gonna be nice to focus on me getting better and preparing myself for the college level,” Donovan Clingan, the newest Husky, said.

david.borges@hearstmediact.com