Playing in the Dyckman summer basketball tournament is just one of many stops for players that are looking to prolong their playing careers beyond the streets of basketball. For Giovanni McLean, summers at Dyckman Park are the main reason why he has never given up on striving to play for a Division-I college.
Born and raised in Bronx, NY, McLean attended Bronx Regional High School, where he played for two years before an injury got in the way of his future dreams.
“During my second year there I tore my ACL,” said McLean. “I never finished school that year but I got my GED in the summer. Then I went to Moberly Area Community College for two semesters. I ended up getting surgery on my knee the summer after Moberly. I sat out the following year and then enrolled in Westchester Community College.”
Surprisingly, he played on a torn ACL for two years prior to opting for surgery. The only reason why it took so long on making that decision was due to his passion and love for the game so he did not want to be driven away from it.
“I even played a whole year of college basketball with it torn,” said McLean. “Then I decided that if I want to have a career I would have to get it fixed so I did after one year at Moberly.”
By getting his ACL operated on, it would also mean that McLean would have to go through nine months of physical therapy before getting back on the court. He describes those months as some of the toughest obstacles he has encountered during his career.
But that wouldn’t change his style of play when he finally stepped foot on the basketball court months after getting surgery.
“Of course I was a bit hesitant to go 100 percent, but as time went by I eventually got comfortable and started trusting my knee more,” said McLean. “I put countless hours of work in just to even be in this position. I was blessed with another opportunity and I'm trying to make the best of it.”
After sitting out for one whole year, McLean was given the opportunity to enroll in Westchester Community College, where he would excel in his playing time, leading his team in both points and assists per game.
McLean was just getting started as more good news was heading his way. Big 12-powerhouse Oklahoma recruited him heavily during the winter after averaging 16.8 points, 7.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game for the Vikings.
Unfortunately, the Big 12 has some eligibility rules that did not seem persuading for the 6-1 guard from the Bronx.
“The Oklahoma thing didn't work because of some rules with the Big 12 that would've made me sit out a year just to play one and that wasn't smart or appealing to me, so I then decided to commit to Quinnipiac University,” said McLean.
Quinnipiac, a private university in Hamden, Conn., had formerly been his first choice had he planned on staying close to home but because he saw a gifted opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages in college basketball, he committed to Oklahoma first.
Less than two weeks after committing to Oklahoma, McLean made the quick and easy decision to then commit to Quinnipiac.
“Now that I'm apart of the QU family I will make the best of it and the goal still remains the same, get an education, win and move on,” said McLean.
McLean is currently playing for the newly improved Dominican Power team in this summer’s Dyckman Basketball Tournament. The team is now 2-0 with help from Mclean, who hit the game winning three-pointer with just six seconds left this past Friday.
It was here at Dyckman Park that he also received the nickname, “Batteries Not Included,” a name that has stuck with him for years now.
“The name ‘Batteries Not Included’ was given to me by Joe Pope,” said McLean.” One of the best announcers to ever do it. At a young age he saw how relentless I was no matter who was on the court and over the years it never changed. I kept improving each year to keep that nickname.”
It takes more than an ordinary individual to play in the Dyckman tournament and McLean helps emphasize that point so that others can understand.
“You just have to have heart to play in Dyckman,” said McLean. “It's man to man the entire game and one move can make or break you so you have to come ready to play. The atmosphere is always great. I grew up playing in Dyckman. I love it there. That's home to me every summer.”