Maranacook’s Cash McClure shoots a 3-pointer in front of cardboard cutouts during a central Maine basketball tournament game March 5 in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Cash McClure doesn’t get nervous often on the basketball court anymore. But he was nervous two weekends ago.

That’s when he was at a New England Prep School Athletic Council showcase in Connecticut, surrounded by Division I college coaches. At one point, he saw Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley. At another, he found himself standing next to Michigan’s Juwan Howard.

And it hit him. This is the rarified air of basketball recruiting.

“I was a little bit nervous on the first day. The only people there that were watching you were coaches,” McClure said. “Every day is packed to the sidelines with D-I, D-II, D-III coaches. It’s kind of a crazy feeling.”

For McClure, this has been the spring and, now, summer. Showcases, AAU competitions throughout the northeastern United States, a busy schedule of trying to go up against the sort of players and get in front of the sort of coaches that can help him play in college at a high level. That’s the basis for his plan for this winter as well, as McClure will attend Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire as a post-graduate, where his uncle, Cory McClure, is head coach.

“(The goal is) definitely some offers to either D-I or D-II schools. That’s the big goal,” he said. “And after visiting some of these schools, finding my best fit, and where I’ll be happy for the next four years of my life.”

McClure’s senior season made those hopes realistic. He overwhelmed Maranacook’s opponents with dominating two-way play, finishing with averages of 27 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals per game.

McClure was an excellent player as a junior, as evidenced by a 33-point showing in the Class B final, but Maranacook coach Travis Magnusson said the difference between his junior and senior seasons was “night and day.”

“That (final) was the best game he’d ever played … and now, that’s the normal game,” Magnusson said. “He’s just so much more explosive, so much better. Just a totally different player. The way he took games over this year … it’s not even the same ballpark.”

Maranacook senior Cash McClure shoots against Messalonskee during a central Maine tournament semifinal game Tuesday in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The accolades rolled in. McClure was named Mr. Maine Basketball in March, becoming Maranacook’s first winner since 2008, and in June, the recognition reached the national stage when he was named Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

“(You hear) all these big-name athletes that have won Gatorade Player of the Year, like Peyton Manning and Cam Newton,” McClure said. “It’s cool to be in a group with all those people, and just being recognized by the brand Gatorade is also pretty cool.”

Magnusson said he pushed McClure to make himself a candidate for the awards, but added that his star was more focused on team success than he was on individual recognition.

“He was so present,” Magnusson said. “Maranacook was so important to him, and what we were doing was the biggest focus.”

At the same time, McClure did have to look ahead to his future. He was recruited by Colby College, but changed his focus during the season to attending Kimball Union and extending his window to work on his game and his body.

“Overall, it’s just for me to be able to stay in the gym and get stronger and a little bit bigger, and play basketball every day,” he said. “That’s the main thing that I wanted to do, and a big part is also getting my name out there and seeing how I compare to all these high-level athletes. It’s already made a huge difference, a few coaches have reached out.”

That’s what the offseason — if, in McClure’s case, you can call it that — has been about as well. His AAU time with first the New York Lightning and, now, the Middlesex (Mass.) Magic has meant weekly trips to states as far away as Pennsylvania and Virginia. McClure spends the weekdays in Maine, then hits the road for the weekend, week after week.

“It gets a little tiring, car rides can get boring. You get stiff, and sometimes you get a little cranky,” he said. “But you know what you’re doing it for, and I know it’s all worth it in the end.”

The goal is to ultimately be playing for one of those coaches who was at that showcase in Connecticut. He’s close — and his former coach thinks he’s already there.

“Cash is definitely the most explosive player I’ve had,” Magnusson said, “and he translates better to the next level than most guards in the state of Maine. To be quite frank, I think it’s a joke that he hasn’t gotten a D-I offer at this point.”

That might change this season.

“The competition level is very high, so it’ll be good to see where I compare with those high-level guys,” McClure said. “I’m just looking forward to the season, I think some pretty big things are going to happen.”

However it turns out, Magnusson said McClure has already left his mark.

“If he retired from basketball right now and never played another game, he’s a legend in the state of Maine for basketball now,” he said. “He became one of the best players that I think we’ve seen in a while. His senior season, he was just that good.

“Forever now, he’s in the books for those things. He’s a Maine high school basketball legend.”

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