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Being raised in a small rural town known as Cordele, Georgia; Lewis Clinch relied on sports as an outlet to stay out of trouble. Kids from this area had two options: play sports and keep yourself occupied and out of the streets or get caught up into things that would get you into trouble.
Lewis has always had a passion for sports. He began participating in organized sports at the age of 7 and played basketball, football and baseball until he was 15 years old. After his first AAU tour he received his first scholarship offer from Furman University. At that point he decided that he wanted to commit to basketball full time. He saw basketball as an opportunity to obtain scholarship offers. Most kids start playing travel basketball around 11 years old, but Lewis had a late start at 15. When he first entered the AAU circuit he didn’t understand that players were individually ranked according to their abilities and performances. Once his AAU coach (Coach Seth Berl) informed him of this system, he was devoted to being highly ranked. Playing AAU helped with his recruitment, but traveling and playing in tournaments nationwide allowed him to gain more confidence.
Being on an AAU team pushed him to be the best he could be which landed him a starting spot on his high school’s (Crisp County High School) Varsity team as a freshman. In his first start vs. Monroe High School he hit 5 three-pointers solidifying his spot on the team. His sophomore season he exploded on the AAU circuit and established himself as an elite high school basketball player in the country. Exercising his leadership skills he averaged about 23 points per game. By his junior year he was a top 30 recruit in the country. You couldn’t name a college that wasn’t recruiting this small town South Georgia kid. Clinch lived up to his goal of being highly ranked serving 27 points, 30 points and 46 points in consecutive games at the Orlando Super Showcase (an AAU tournament). (Stats provided by Rivals.com)
He continued to be a consistent performer in and out of school. He topped his junior year off with an average of 25 points 7 assists and 7 rebounds. This was his first year as captain of the team and he led his team to the Sweet 16 in the Georgia State playoffs. His senior year he averaged 26 points 6 rebounds and 4 assists leading his high school team to the elite 8 of the state playoffs. Clinch’s last AAU tour was one to be remembered. During his last run he averaged over 30 points per game. His performances throughout his high school and AAU career gave him an opportunity to be selected to play in the Jordan Capitol Classic in Madison Square Garden where he scored 13 points and 4 rebounds.
As the time to make a decision inched closer he narrowed down his top 4 schools to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Duke. Location was an important factor in his decision making because he wanted his Mom to be able to attend as many games as possible. Lewis finished his senior year as a 1st team All State performer and set the Crisp County High School scoring record with 1997 points. He finished ranked as the 27th best prospect in the United States by TheInsiders.com and no. 36 by Rivals.com. He was at the top of the list rankings finishing number 2 in the state of Georgia.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were the winning bidders. His hard work continued to produce great results. He was the highest rated freshman of the 2005 incoming class. Clinch fought his way into the starting lineup his freshman year. He ended up starting the final 8 games of that year. He ranked 3rd amongst ACC freshmen in scoring with an average of 8.9 points a game overall. Clinch remained diligent in his sophomore season producing 20 or more points in 4 games, shot the ball extremely well with 53% overall and 48% from the three. Clinch’s junior year he finished the season providing double-digit scoring for 15 games with 10 games in a row. He was notched as Tech’s top performer in the Paradise Jam Tournament in the Virgin Islands.
Lewis Clinch finished his senior season as Tech’s leading scorer averaging 15.5 ppg. Topping off his season with 30 points on his final home game against the University of Miami, as well as tying the record (Dennis Scott held the record) for the most three pointers made in a game for Georgia Tech. Lewis transitioned from Georgia Tech to play professionally with the D-League’s Austin Toros for 2 years, Puerto Rico for 2 seasons, a few seasons in the Dominican Republic as well as Israel, Japan, and Iceland.
Clinch recalls Iceland being his favorite place. He led his Icelandic team to win a Cup Championship. His tour in Iceland set his best professional season where he averaged 23 points 7 assists and 5 rebounds. While dominating the league and winning a championship in Iceland, Clinch also came across the opportunity to be the Head Coach for the Professional Women’s basketball team of the city (Grindavik) where he played. It was an honor for him to be given the responsibility to coach the last 6 games of their season. The women’s team was on the verge of finishing last place in the league, which would result in the team being demoted to a lower division. Clinch stepped in and led the women’s team to win 3 of their last 6 games, which earned them a spot in the league for the following season all while pursuing a championship himself.
Throughout his professional career, Clinch found himself always leading his teammates through player development workouts. Players seem to always flock to him in admiration of his work ethic and persistent workout regiment. He was always eager to be of assistance and found joy in seeing his teammates progress from his teaching methods in such a short period. This passion for helping players develop their basketball skill set has now been turned into Pro Guard Development, LLC.