The state of Rhode Island isn’t known for producing basketball players such as Steph Curry, Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. However, one of the minds that has contributed to the success of some of the best NBA players in the country comes from Cranston, and is a graduate of Bishop Hendricken in Warwick.
Rob McClanaghan is a professional basketball trainer and Rhode Island native who coaches and works with MVP winning and caliber players for a living. McClanaghan spent this past weekend running a youth clinic for 35 local area basketball players using the same strategies and approaches he uses with the NBA elite.
“I do the same drills I do with Kevin Durant that I do with a 12-year-old,” McClanaghan said. “This isn’t the type of camp that you’re going to come in a do a couple drills and play five-on-five all day. This is high-intensity skill development for the serious player.”
It is important to McClanaghan to come back to his alma mater. His deep connections with the Hendricken community and time spent at the school between being a student, coach and physical education teacher all hold a special place inside of him.
McClanaghan won a state championship his senior year at Hendricken in 1997 before heading off to Syracuse University, where he was a walk-on for the Orange. He spent one year in the college coaching ranks at the University of South Florida as an assistant to former USF head coach and current ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg.
After his one year on Greenberg’s staff, he returned home, where he coached and taught physical education at Hendricken from 2002-05. He also trained Hendricken alum such as Jimmy and Billy Baron and Joe Mazzulla, all three of which went on to play Division I college basketball.
“It’s where it all started,” McClanaghan said while looking around Pepin Gymnasium, the home court of the Hendricken basketball program. “I’ve kind of done it all here; coached, taught and was a student. That’s seven years of my life at Hendricken.”
Despite living in Los Angeles for most of the summer he still calls Little Rhody his home for more than half the year. McClanaghan is on the West Coast for four to five months out of the year. He said his clients with the Golden State Warriors are really the only thing that keeps him in California.
“I’m from here, I started here,” McClanaghan said about still living in his home state. “I have a house here and my family is here. Besides that, L.A. is kind of expensive,” he said with a chuckle.
Through all the success and big-name clients, McClanaghan never loses sight of one thing: young basketball players were his first clients.
“My first ever client was kids,” McClanaghan said. “Started with 12-year-olds and worked my way up to getting players like [Providence College standout] Ryan Gomes and from there my career took off a bit.”
Seeing the progress that young players make is the greatest takeaway from running development camps for McClanaghan. He said that there is a specific reaction he gets from teaching youth. “I know when I talk about the NBA guys, the kids perk up a little bit,” McClanaghan said. “If I say I did this with Kevin Durant then they’ll listen a little more. It’s kind of cool to see their reactions. It’s not a secret, it’s about hard work.”