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Mac McClung was grateful for opportunity with Lakers, is just hoping to get better heading into second season

Once a viral sensation in high school, Mac McClung has more than become a legitimate NBA prospect, as he showed this season with the Lakers and their affiliate in South Bay.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

One of the latest potential finds for the Lakers scouting department, Mac McClung has long been a known name around the basketball world. However, he’s gone from a simple viral high school sensation to legitimate NBA prospect, as the Lakers have found out by watching him all year in the G League.

McClung signed with the Lakers as an undrafted free agent, earned a two-way contract late in the year and eventually was named the G League Rookie of the Year. At season’s end, McClung appeared in the Lakers’ win over the Nuggets to wrap up the year and capped off his impressive run and a Lakers with a highlight-reel reverse dunk.

Heading into the offseason, McClung is grateful for his opportunity, and focused on improving to become a full-time Laker and, potentially, the latest diamond in the rough for the Lakers scouting department.

“Just trying to stay the course,” McClung said of his offseason plan, “try to work on the things I need to get better at and see where this summer takes us.”

In the G League, McClung averaged 21.6 points across 27 games, shooting 46.6% from the field and 37.4% from the 3-point line. Twenty-six of those games came in Los Angeles with McClung having a brief, brief stint with the Bulls’ NBA and G League team, playing one game for each.

McClung’s production didn’t stop at scoring, as he added 7.6 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per contest. Only Mason Jones, who was named to the G League First Team this year, averaged more points and rebounds, while McClung led the South Bay Lakers in assists. McClung eclipsed 30 points on a trio of occasions, topping out at 37 points in a win over the Santa Cruz Warriors.

All that was enough for McClung to earn a spot on the G League All-Rookie team to go along with his Rookie of the Year award.

“It meant a lot,” McClung said of winning the latter award. “It’s not something I was really focused on at all. I wanted to win the South Bay Lakers a championship

“Coach announced it and I was kind of just in shock because my mind wasn’t there, but it’s definitely a huge honor and I’m very appreciative of it, and my coaches and everyone. It wouldn’t have happened without them, so I’m super lucky to have them,” McClung continued. “To get to play (for the Lakers) last night was an honor and I’m super appreciative.”

McClung has long been a viral sensation. Search “Mac McClung dunk,” as I did to find the clip above, and you’ll find dozens and dozens of videos of his time as a prep athlete. For so long, McClung was known for his highlights and not his actual play. Social media helped make him one of the internet’s biggest viral stars.

Ironically, it’s social media that McClung is now trying to separate himself from.

“I think social media can be a distraction for a lot of people and in my life it has kind of been following me, good and bad,” McClung said. “I just worry about being the best version of myself each day and trying to grow each day in the right direction, and I’m appreciative of people who support me and people who don’t support me. So I kind of just say the course and focus on myself.”

In staying the course and growing each day, McClung has become a viable NBA prospect. And based on his first year in the G League, he could be the next win for the Lakers and their scouting department.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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