McClung grabbed headline after headline and provided video highlights for every media outlet far and wide with unbelievable slam dunks and other unreal feats on the way to leading the Blue Devils to the VHSL Class 2 state championship.
While McClung is now making top 10 ESPN plays for the Georgetown Hoyas and coach Patrick Ewing, Gate City coach Scott Vermillion and the Blue Devils are looking for a way back to Richmond and a shot at repeating as state champs after finishing 28-2 last year.
“We certainly believe there’s potential to do that,” Vermillion said of the Blue Devils repeating as state champions. “We know there’s a lot of great teams out there, and we’re not taking anything for granted. But we believe we’ve got a shot at it.
“Last year when Mac played smart, he was hard to stop. This year we’re going to have to play smarter and work harder, but we definitely have the potential to make it back and win another one. That’s certainly our intention.”
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
Vermillion does not have to look too far to find a lot of reason for optimism for the upcoming season.
Zac Ervin, a 6-5 senior, is the second Blue Devil basketball player in as many years to sign a letter of intent to play at an NCAA Division I school. Ervin signed to play at Wofford next year.
Ervin will be the focus of the Blue Devils this season, along with 6-2 junior Bradley Dean.
Ervin and Dean were key players last year for Gate City and will be relied on even more this year with McClung doing his magic at Georgetown.
Jon Compton (6-0, jr.) will run the offense at the point guard position, while Drew Vermillion (6-1, sr.), Jonathan Sallee (6-5, jr.) and David George (6-5, sr.) will all play important roles for the Blue Devils.
Vermillion said several other role players will work into the plans throughout the season. They include seniors Jacob Hicks and Charlie Quinn, juniors D’Andre Mack and Andrew Hensley and sophomores Elijah Starnes, Luke Reed and Matthew Gose.
Gate City will be in action Dec. 1 at Virginia-Wise’s Prior Convocation Center when the Blue Devils take on Eastside in a preseason benefit game.
The Blue Devils play another benefit game on Dec. 8 at Virginia High against the Bearcats.
Gate City’s regular season opens on Dec. 11 against Mountain 7 District foe Lee High at Lee before traveling to face another district opponent, Wise Central, on Dec. 14.