Former Valley star McCloud joins Hall
In a case of one Valley High School basketball great describing another, B.B. Flenory once characterized Mark McCloud as “a Dennis Rodman type” of player.
McCloud appreciates the praise, but doesn't see himself wearing outlandish outfits, dying his hair bright colors or getting fired from “The Apprentice” any time soon.
“Well, I don't have any tattoos and I don't have green hair,” McCloud said with a laugh. “As a matter of fact, I don't have any hair.”
Obviously, Flenory was referring to the Rodman who irritated opponents and tore down rebounds for a living with five NBA teams.
Rodman won five NBA championships before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
McCloud didn't have that same get-under-your-skin air about him, but he was a gifted player who starred at Valley before a stellar college career at Robert Morris.
He'll also have a hall of fame tag now that he's being inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
McCloud, nicknamed “Mac,” will be recognized along with seven other inductees at the 44th induction banquet May 18 at the Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.
“Going into the hall of fame was the last thing I expected,” said McCloud, 49. “You play the game because you love it and you hope to one day look back and appreciate what you've done.”
McCloud was a standout combo guard with shooting prowess, but he played before the 3-point line.
“The top of the key was a normal shot for everybody,” he said.
McCloud started for three years and won two section titles while taking Comcast-TV Channel 3 Player of the Year honors in 1982.
McCloud also earned first-team all-conference twice in football and could have pursued that sport in college. Instead, he began a college basketball career at Waynesburg before formulating plans to transfer to Youngstown State.
But a coaching change occurred at Youngstown — Dom Roselli out and Mike Rice in — and the plans changed.
Rice reportedly was interested in McCloud, but was out of scholarships to offer.
So, he contacted Robert Morris, who found a spot for him.
Nice move. He became a three-year starter in the backcourt and played with Chipper Harris, another Valley product.
When McCloud left RMU, he was third all-time in assists and steals, and seventh in rebounding, which wasn't bad for a 6-foot-3 guard — Rodman would be proud.
McCloud played in the 1983 NCAA Tournament. Most recently, he watched his alma mater shock Kentucky in the NIT Tournament.
“I was in the stands cheering my team on,” McCloud said. “That was a great game and a great win; just amazing. It was shocking coach Calipari could have went anywhere in Kentucky to play that game and he says, let's go (to Robert Morris). It's amazing that he would agree to do that.”
A former Valley assistant coach under Vern Benson, McCloud is busy being a father these days. His daughter, Nicole, 13, is showing signs of her father's basketball talents.
The family lives in Adams Township, which is in the Mars School District.
“I am enjoying being a dad,” McCloud said. “I am working with my daughter and she is progressing. She is a lot better than me than when I was in eighth grade. I am excited to watch her play (in high school). Mars is in Valley's section.”
He also has a son, Jordan, 17. McCloud plans to acknowledge both of his children prominently in his acceptance speech.
McCloud was a scorer in high school, but fanned out his skills at RMU.
“I wasn't looking to score, I just wanted to get on the floor,” McCloud said. “My forte when I got to college wasn't to score a lot of points. I guarded the other team's best offensive player. My role was to start and be a better defensive player. When you get to play for certain programs, your roles and responsibilities change if you want to see playing time.”