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Coach K wins out over Notre Dame for McClure

In 1977, Mike Gminski, Duke's last player from Connecticut, ended his freshman year as ACC Co-Rookie of the Year with a 15 point, 11 rebound average.

In 2003-04, Dave McClure, Duke's newest commitment and first from the Constitution State since Gminski, hopes to have a similar impact. A 6-foot-6 wing forward from Ridgefield, Ct., McClure joined Duke's recruiting class of 2004 with a verbal commitment to the Blue Devils on June 2.

The early commitment surprised many recruiting analysts, who expected McClure's recruitment to be one of the most hotly contested battles in the country. Pittsburgh, Boston College, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Duke all recruited McClure, and his decision ultimately came down to the Blue Devils and the Fighting Irish.

"They were both great schools, and what made it so difficult was that they were both great basketball schools and academic [schools]," McClure said in a telephone interview with the Chronicle. "Many schools told me that the best thing you can hear is yes and the second best thing was no. I didn't think it was necessary to make Duke or Notre Dame wait any longer."

The commitment came on the heels of the Tournament of Champions, a prestigious AAU basketball competition held in the Triangle area. McClure, who plays for the Tim Thomas Playaz AAU Team, participated in the event and walked away with a decision in mind.

"[The visit] reaffirmed everything I was thinking [about Duke]," McClure said.

He cited good relationships with current basketball players Shavlik Randolph, Daniel Ewing, Sean Dockery, J.J. Redick, and, of course, coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"Coach K was unbelievable," McClure said. "He has coached so many great players and teams. I speak nothing but highly about him."

McClure averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game during his junior year for Trinity Catholic high school, which won the Connecticut Catholic School State Championship. He was named championship game MVP with a 15-point, 13-rebound performance.

"We were down 6 points heading into the last quarter [in the championship game] and he took the game over...he did everything he could to help us win the game," Trinity head coach Mike Walsh said. "He led by example his junior year; whatever we wanted him to do, he'd do, whether we needed an offensive rebound or a defensive stop... Dave would do that for us. He was very quiet and always did his work; he was always the kind of kid that other players could go to."

Recruiting service Rivals.com currently has McClure ranked as the 55th best player in the class of 2004 and the ninth best small forward.

"I think David McClure brings some depth to the Duke roster, a guy who is an academic as well as a basketball player.... I think he's a guy who you look at and you really start to fall for his game because of the intelligent and efficient way for which he approaches it," respected recruiting analyst Dave Telep told the Chronicle. "I think Dave McClure is a nice fit [for Duke] because...of how coachable he is; he's a guy who's going to be at Duke for four years and contribute to them on the court and off the court."

Both Walsh and Telep noted McClure's strong rebounding ability as one of his greatest strengths. However, they acknowledged that several aspects of his game that require improvement.

"[He needs to] continue to work on his three point shot," Telep said. "If he's to achieve his maximum ability, he's going to have to make threes all the time to keep defenders off him."

Walsh continued where Telep left off.

"He needs to work on his outside shooting passing, finding the open man, ballhandling those are things that he needs to work on and he'll continue to work on rebounding and defense are his strengths.... Dave's a really wonderful kid.

McClure, though, seems to be more than ready for the challenge.

"I'm dedicated to do whatever it takes to win...whatever the coach needs me to do I'll do," said McClure, who also hinted at a possible leadership role for future Blue Devil teams.

"The grade above is kind of slim with Kris [Humphries] pulling out so Coach K says he'll need a lot of leaders in our grade."

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