Mir McLean, 2020, Roland Park Country School

by Katherine Dunn

Whether you saw one game or every game of Mir McLean’s Roland Park Country basketball career, the lasting impression always featured her soaring to grab a rebound.

VSN’s No. 2 Forward of the Decade seemed to have springs for ankles. At 5-foot-11, McLean has a vertical leap of more than 27 inches to go with a knack for tracking the ball off the rim.

“There was just never a ceiling, literally or figuratively. The girl could just jump out of the gym,” Roland Park coach Dani Steinbach said of the high school All American.

“There was never a rebound that she didn’t think she could get and I think that probably set her up for success on both ends of the floor, because she was an incredibly difficult match-up for anyone. She had the length to be able to play with girls inches taller than her, but then she had the speed and the agility to extend it to the wing especially in her senior year.”

The Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year in 2019-20, McLean was a McDonald’s All-American and a Jordan Brand Classic All-American. She was a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection all four years with the Reds and now plays for No. 1 Connecticut.

One season removed from her brilliant high school career at Roland Park Country, Mir McLean is making her mark at UConn, the nation’s premier women’s college basketball program.

When she announced her college commitment in June 2019, Daniel Connolly wrote on theuconnblog.com that, “UConn women’s basketball is adding some bounce to its 2020 recruiting class.”

Although she didn’t start playing basketball until the fifth grade, McLean was a perfect fit for the game and followed both of her parents into college sports. Her mother played basketball at Northeastern and her father played football at Morgan State. And, she said, she’s always had that great jumping ability.

McLean finished her high school career with 1,849 points and 1,365 rebounds, both Roland Park career records. During her Reds career, she had 75 double doubles and averaged 18.2 points and 13.2 rebounds.

A five-star recruit, McLean ranked as the No. 25 player overall in the ESPN HoopGurlz Class of 2020. She was rated the No. 4 wing, a position she played in AAU although at Roland Park, she dominated on the inside where the Reds needed her.

“She has such a knack for knowing where the ball is going to be and being the first one to get it every time and that just led to so many points, especially from an offensive rebound standpoint. I’d love to be able to go back and look at how many of her career points came from second-chance points. It has to be hundreds,” said Steinbach, who called McLean, “a program defining player.”

McLean excelled from the moment she hit the court with the Reds, scoring 18 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in her first high school game — against Ossining, N.Y., the No. 5 team in the country at the time. As a freshman, she had 20 double-doubles in 23 games

The Reds reached the IAAM A Conference semifinals three times with McLean in the lineup. They made it to the title game her junior year after winning the regular season with a 14-0 record. However, they fell to St. Frances in the final.

As a senior, she averaged 21.3 points and 12.5 rebounds, taking on more leadership responsibility after veteran point guard Rain Green got hurt.

In the last win of her high school career, McLean scored 28 points and had 18 rebounds as the Reds upset St. John’s Catholic Prep in the A Conference tournament quarterfinals, 56-54, but they couldn’t get past St. Frances in the semis despite 16 points and nine rebounds from McLean.

St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton praised McLean for keeping the Reds in that 51-48 game.

“When you see a kid’s personality out there, the character that Mir McLean had, how she competed and carried the team on her back, particularly her senior year when Rain had gone down. Most of the responsibility fell on Mir her senior year and she did a tremendous job. All of her stats went up. That just shows you that she stepped right into that leadership position and expanded her game even more to help her team have a good season,” Shelton said.

While the Reds had many great moments with McLean in the lineup, she said her favorite memory came early in her career.

“In the tenth grade we went to a tournament (the Nike Tournament of Champions) in Arizona and we ended up winning the championship there, but we also had a lot of fun experiences in the hotel and going out to eat,” said McLean.

McLean also earned Most Valuable Player for the Reds’ tournament bracket, which included teams from New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and California.

That MVP award as well as all the other accolades from her career motivated McLean that much more.

“Sometimes you have not a love-hate relationship with basketball, but, you know like when you mess up, you get down on yourself, so [the awards are] reassuring and it makes me want to do more because I felt like people respected or noticed that I’ve been working hard.”

McLean said being a competitive person and a perfectionist drew her to UConn, because “winning goes along with being competitive.”

In her college debut, she scored 10 points and had six rebounds in 11 minutes of the season-opening 79-23 win over UMass Lowell. She’s played in 18 of the Huskies 19 games.

“It was a hard transition at first, learning plays and stuff, because in high school I didn’t really necessarily run a bunch of plays, because of the position I was in and so just learning the sets and learning how the coaches are is not that difficult, but it’s been something I’ve been working on,” said McLean, who is majoring in Arabic and Islamic civilizations.

No. 3 Girls Basketball Forward: Mia Davis, 2017, St. Frances Academy

No. 4 Girls Basketball Forward: Jasmine Dickey, 2015, Catonsville High School

No. 1 Girls Basketball Guard: Dionna White, 2015, Milford Mill Academy

No. 2 Girls Basketball Guard: Nia Clouden, 2018, St. Frances Academy

No. 3 Girls Basketball Guard: Danielle Edwards, 2015, McDonogh School

No. 4 Girls Basketball Guard: Taylor Murray, 2015, Annapolis Area Christian School