Since helping lead his team to a state basketball title back in March, it's been hard for Cardinal Ritter's Sean Michael Clancey to put basketball on the back burner. There have been far too many pleasant reminders of what he and his team accomplished.
Let's see now, Clancey made all-conference and all-state, respectively. Then he was chosen by the Missouri Coaches Association as the state's Class 3 boys basketball player of the year. Clancey, the go-to star of Cardinal Ritter College Prep in Midtown St. Louis, program, has certainly been 'in the middle' of many postseason honors, including the ultimate state player of the year.
"I was shocked," said Clancey, in describing his initial reaction to the honor. "I didn't really think I was going to win player of the year. I was just hoping to make all-state. Then I was at the school in the hallway when I learned about it."
After being shown the list, Clancey said he started to scroll down the list in search of his name on the all-state squad, only to see his name at the very top with player of the year mention.
"I started jumping up and down," beamed Clancey. "I was looking to make all-state, not player of the year."
Between the many post-season honors bestowed upon for the breakout season he had, and the recruiting visits he has made because of those skills, Clancey hasn't had much time to savor the moments.The games have been replaced by the honors and the visits. Once he decided to go the junior college route to build up his grades, he has visited Allen Community College in Kansas, Mineral Area Community College in Park Hills, Mo., Moberly Community College in Missouri and Vincennes University in Indiana. Initially he was also being recruited by four-year schools, such as Eastern Illinois and Texas Christian University.
However on Easter Sunday, Clancey ended the late recruiting process by deciding to take his talents to the Moberly, in the Missouri city that bears its name. Clancey will start running with the Greyhounds, who were 23-9 last season but boast a nation's leading 27 national tournament appearances. The Greyhounds have captured four national championships, three runner-up finishes and four third-place. Mitch Richmond, a former perennial all-star with the Goldan State Warriors and Gerald Wilkins who started for the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers, are two former Moberly products who achieved success at the NBA level.
A 6-foot-3 forward, Clancey averaged right at 23 points per game (22.9) and shot 54 percent from the field, while also averaging seven rebounds to pace the Lions to the Missouri Class 3 boys basketball state championship. He scored a game-high 39 points in the Lions 73-54 rout of Strafford in the state semifinals and added a club-high 22 points in their 57-48 triumph over Barstow of Kansas City. Clancey he will switch to the shooting guard position at Moberly.
Interestingly enough, Clancey said looking back his decision to attend Moberly was greatly influenced by a neutral-site playoff game the Lions had at the college on the road to the state playoffs.
"We had played there in the game that sent us to state (the quarterfinals) and I liked the gym and the atmosphere," recalled Clancey. "When we practiced (the day before) we had a lot of Moberly boosters just there watching us (scrimmage) against their alumni. The people and the community showed a lot of support and a lot of love. I didn't get all of that from any other school I visited."
As a junior, Clancey, who is the nephew of Ritter's veteran coach Marvin Neals, had averaged a club-high 16.6 points as the club got eliminated in sectional play. This time around, there was no stopping Clancey and the Lions. What was Clancey's biggest improvement?
"My aggressiveness offensively," he replied. "I found spots on the floor I was more comfortable with."
In playing for his uncle Neals, who is already in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame with what is now 654 victories and five state titles, Clancey acknowledged it has been a pleasure.
"It's been a wonderful experience playing for Coach Neals," noted Clancey.
Likewise Clancey's father James is expressed similar pleasure for his son capturing the state's top award.
"I think it's wonderful," said James Clancey. "I think he has been a good athlete and role model for a long time."