Rob McClanaghan stood at the podium. He had just finished addressing the students attending career day at his alma mater, Bishop Hendricken High School.
“Always great to go back there. Today, life came full circle and it was an honor to be there,” said McClanaghan after he concluded his speech.
More than 20 years have passed since McClanaghan, now 39, graduated from Hendricken where he was part of a state championship basketball team as a senior.
Twenty years later, the walk-on at Syracuse hailing from the smallest state in the union is now considered one of the most instrumental people behind the scenes in the NBA.
His amazing story has been penned on numerous occasions by the likes of Sports Illustrated, The Ringer, USA Today, Complex and NBA.com.
After earning a spot as a walk-on at Syracuse, he was part three NCAA Tournaments and a Big East Championship. He went on to coach basketball at the University of South Florida before returning to Rhode Island to coach and teach at Hendricken. He began to train players in Hendricken’s gym before school at 6 a.m. His first client was former Providence College great Ryan Gomes.
Now the Cranston native is exclusively preparing players for the NBA Draft and regular season; creating comprehensive training programs for serious, results-driven players. He has been training the NBA’s elite for more than a dozen years.
His client roster is jaw-dropping: Kevin Love, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant -among others.
“Rob came with great praise from other players on the engaged style of his training.,” said MVP Curry. “He gets out and defends and bangs with the players, adds a presence to his workouts that gets a little more out of you.”
To the Hendricken students attending the career day at which he spoke, he emphasized persistence has always been the key to his success.
He shared a story of how he wanted to work at the prestigious ABCD America Camp directed by the legendary Sonny Vaccaro. McClanaghan emailed Vaccaro every single day until he received the response he was looking for.
Persistence, he said, has been crucial to his success. Equally as important – if not more – is the trust he has earned with Curry, Love, Durant and the others.
He protects his relationships. He keeps his circle tight, never brags, rarely shares stories and wouldn’t think of asking his “guys” for a favor, no matter how little. No autographs. No gear. Nothing. Never. The result is an ability to build a roster of the biggest and brightest stars – many of whom, like Rose and Westbrook, he has trained since they were teenagers.
“I have been working with Rob since I graduated from high school and the results speak for itself. His system and guidance have made me an NBA All-Star and I will work with Rob my entire NBA career,” said Derrick Rose during his NBA Rookie of the Year acceptance speech back in 2009.
“Rob McClanaghan is one of the hardest working guys that’s come through our program. He’s good with people, his success is not a surprise,” said Syracuse Men’s Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim, who recently had dinner with McClanaghan in Boston when the Orange were in area to play BC.
McClanaghan’s life will come full circle once again this weekend as he will head back to the gym where he once won a state high school championship. A rare break in his schedule has allowed him to host a skills training clinic for boys & girls 10-17. The two-day basketball clinic will be held April 14-15, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
“My schedule is extremely busy. I rarely have the opportunity to host a youth clinic home in Rhode Island at my high school gym,“ he said. “I am really looking forward to it.”
McClanaghan’s instruction is geared to bring each player’s on-court skills and game-situation knowledge to the next level. McClanaghan will incorporate some of the same drills he runs with his NBA clients in the Hendricken clinic.
“My goal is to enhance a player’s skills, improve their conditioning and increase their knowledge of the game,” said McClanaghan “I’m going to do some of the same drills I’ve done with Steph (Curry) with the kids this weekend. We’re going to work hard, but we’re going to have a good time.”
A few spots remain for the upcoming clinic at Hendricken. To attend the event, register here.