KOKOMO, Ind.– Recent IU Kokomo graduate Akil McClain announced Sunday afternoon that he will continue his basketball career playing professionally overseas in Italy. McClain becomes the first-ever IU Kokomo men’s basketball player in program history to sign a professional contract.
“A dream isn’t a dream anymore when it starts to become a reality,” McClain said. “Staying focused and determined can take you a long way in whatever it is you are trying to achieve in life, which is exactly what I did to get where I am today.”
McClain (Hammond/Bishop Noll) is coming off an outstanding senior season, earning River States Conference (RSC) First Team All-Conference and a trip to the NAIA National Championship Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD. He led the Cougars this past season in scoring (501 pts), steals (32), minutes played (29.5 mpg) and field goals made (181). Additionally, he was a top contender in the RSC, ranking seventh in scoring, ninth in field goal percentage, and 13th in total rebounds.
“I am very excited for Akil to live out his dream of becoming a professional basketball player and for having the opportunity to continue his career in Italy,” said Head Coach Eric Echelbarger. “I am very proud of him for the way he represented our program on and off the court over the past three years. Becoming the second all-time leading scorer and top three-point marksman in program history doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the overall impact he has been to our program.
“His dedication to his craft of becoming the best version of himself will make him successful in his professional basketball career and life outside of basketball.”
Due to COVID-19, the recruiting process took additional time, but McClain’s agent, Luigi Battista, reached out to him letting him know there were coaches interested in him playing in the C-Division League in Italy. When speaking with Battista, McClain understood that his style of play would translate over well with the European style and believed he could have a great career overseas.
Athletic Director Greg Cooper stated, “I am very happy for Akil. This has been his goal for many years. He has put in the work to earn this chance to show what he can do. Now that he has gotten his foot in the door, I look forward to watching his career flourish and how this amazing opportunity will impact his life.”
For his three-year career, McClain, who played in 98 games for IU Kokomo, collected 1,488 points (15.2 ppg), 472 rebounds (4.8 rpg) and 151 assists (1.5 apg). He became just the fifth player in program history to surpass the 1,000 points mark, joining fellow teammates Antoin Clifton and Trequan Spivey. McClain was also a two-time RSC Player of the Week and earned back to back RSC First Team All-Conference recognition.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the IU Kokomo Men's Basketball team, fans can visit IUKCougars.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Cougar basketball news by following @IUKAthletics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Story by Isabel Rothschadl, assistant athletic director/sports information director.
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