Maranacook senior Cash McClure shoots against Messalonskee during a 2021 central Maine tournament semifinal game in Readfield. McClure will be playing basketball for Bentley University next season. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

In a game this winter, Cash McClure got the ball on a reversal, cut toward the basket, made a move past the defender and went up toward the rim.

That wasn’t what impressed his Kimball Union Academy coach, Cory McClure. What impressed him was what followed.

“They’ve got a 7-foot athletic kid,” Cory McClure said. “(And) he tried to dunk it on this kid.”

He didn’t make the dunk, but he did make a point. Already a wildly talented player, McClure was showing that he had the confidence to match.

“I told my brother (Cash’s father Aaron) that night, ‘That right there is the proof of what I’ve been trying to share with him,'” said Cory McClure, who’s also Cash’s uncle. “He’s turned the corner on how he sees himself as a player. … He needed to prove it to himself. That’s what this year was for him, a proving ground.”

The season of basketball at the New Hampshire prep school has just further prepared McClure, the 2021 Mr. Maine Basketball winner and Gatorade Player of the Year at Maranacook, as he continues his career progression. McClure now turns the page to college and Bentley University, where he’ll play under scholarship for a program that went 25-5 this season and reached the Elite Eight of the Division II NCAA tournament.


“I’ve been telling everyone and talking to the coaches about how excited I am. … I’ve talked to a few of the new commits for next year who will be my teammates, so that’s pretty cool. I’m definitely looking forward to it,” McClure said. “(Bentley’s success) was one of the biggest parts of making my decision. I wanted to go to a program where they’re known to be successful, and they just produce successful people.”

To prepare for the jump, McClure played this season for his uncle at Kimball Union, where he started at point guard, finished with averages of more than 20 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and 5 rebounds per game and earned first-team All-NEPSAC recognition while going up against some of the region’s best prospects.

“He is explosive athletically,” Cory McClure said. “He can score and wants to score at all three levels. … He does have a different level of work ethic. He is just wired to be in the gym.”

A season that ended well had a difficult start. McClure, who went 64-12 as a Black Bear at Maranacook, dealt with the rare frustration of losing as KUA started 3-6.

“That’s like the first time I’ve been on a team where we kind of struggled a little bit, and had to fight our way back,” he said.

Maranacook’s Cash McClure hoists the 2020 Class B South championship plaque with his teammates after the Black Bears sank Wells in the at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. McClure, who played at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire this season, will play for Bentley University next season. Portland Press Herald photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

There were also the individual challenges that came with playing a greater level of competition. Always the best player on the court his last two years of high school, McClure was suddenly going up against teams that, like his own, were stocked with scholarship seekers on the floor and on the bench.


“I’ve had to play against extremely talented basketball players that are much bigger, much stronger, quicker than me,” he said. “It took a little bit of time. Maine basketball compared to this, it’s just two different worlds. I played AAU where I played this level of competition, but not on a daily, consistent basis. I’m practicing every day against guys at that level. It’s a different world.”

With time, however, McClure began to notice how little of a gap there was between the D-I hopefuls he was playing against and himself, if there was one at all. In a stretch in January, he scored 31, 27 and 27 points, and as its point guard heated up, so did KUA.

“Cash was a big part of that,” said Cory McClure, whose team finished 16-8. “He clearly belonged on that floor.”

He knew it, too.

“At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t attacking the rim as much as I could have. I guess it was more just seeing the big dudes below and kind of shying away from contact and shying away from getting to the rim, which is one of the best attributes of my game,” McClure said. “I had to kind of deal with that and continue to go to the hoop. I know I’m athletic enough. … After playing an entire season with that every single game, I think it’s prepared me a lot for next year.”

When he goes to Bentley, McClure will bring with him outstanding athletic ability, a 3-point shot that was around 40 percent this season, and improved defensive ability. He said he’s not sure what role he’ll have right away, but he’s ready — eager, even — to prove himself at a high level once again.


“I know that everybody is going to have to work for their minutes and work for their role on the team, so I’m planning to do the same thing,” he said. “I know what I want, so I have to fight for it and work for it.”

His uncle is sure he’ll be successful.

“I’ve been doing this 26 years,” Cory McClure said, “and I have no doubt in my mind, all the way to my core, that he is a Division I player. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

The coronavirus arrived in the country in between McClure’s junior and senior seasons, and the pandemic’s effect on recruiting sent him down an unconventional path of trying to get on colleges’ radars. But given the past season at KUA and his upcoming Bentley career, McClure said he’s happy with how that path ended.

“My dad always tells me, it’s one of his favorite quotes, ‘Everything happens for a reason,'” McClure said. “Everything worked out.”

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