Since returning from a hand injury that cost him the majority of the 2015-16 season, Gian Clavell has been a man on a mission.
The veteran guard from Puerto Rico has fine tuned his game and worked hard to prove that he is one of the top talents that the Mountain West has to offer. Although known predominantly for his scoring abilities, Clavell has become a complete player that the Rams can depend on both ends of the court.
Widely recognized for the ability to put up points in a hurry, Clavell has not disappointed on the offensive end. The redshirt senior guard leads the team in scoring at 18.2 points per-game and is shooting 46.6 percent from the floor.
Having scored in double figures in 15 of his 16 appearances this season, including a 37 point performance at San Diego State (Jan. 28), Clavell has been consistently providing an offensive spark throughout the season, despite being targeted heavily in most opposing defensive schemes.
“You have got to do whatever it takes to win,” Clavell said. “I’m not an offensive-only guy at all. I do everything. Whatever it takes to win, I’m going to do it. I know I can heat up quick and put up 15-20 points in like five minutes but that is really the least of my worries. I just want to do anything that we need to win.”
One of the reasons Clavell has been able to consistently create so many scoring opportunities has been an increased attention to moving without the ball.
“It is so tiring, let me tell you what, but I have to do it if I am going to score,” Clavell said.
Along with out-hustling his opponents on the offensive end, Clavell has really made an impact on both defense and the glass. Most players that score like Clavell tend to take it easy on the other end of the floor, but that is not the case at all with Clavell.
“I think I am the most complete player in the conference,” Clavell said. “I want to guard their best player. I want to play 38-40 minutes. I rebound. I play-make. I am not just another stand-up shooter that just comes off screens and shoots. I want to do it all.”
The attention to defense has paid off as the Rams are giving up less than 70 points per-game (67.5) and are tied for 47th best in the nation with an average of 38.7 rebounds per contest. Even despite Emmanuel Omogbo bringing in ten-plus rebounds per-game, Clavell has managed to average seven rebounds per-game, which means the two are bringing down around 20 on any given night.
In an era where basketball has become all about the flash, Clavell’s relentlessness on the court is somewhat of a rarity in college hoops. Players are not used to grinding for 40 straight minutes, so it is tough to prepare for a player that is going to constantly be in your face until the whistle blows.
Clavell is an old school type talent and it really fits head coach Larry Eustachy’s style of play. Emphasizing defense and rebounding has been the basis of every Eustachy-led team in history and it has done wonders for the versatile guard.
Collegian sports reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @JustinTMichael.