Clifton McNeely

Last updated
Clifton McNeely
Personal information
Born(1919-06-22)June 22, 1919
Greenwood, Texas
DiedDecember 26, 2003(2003-12-26) (aged 84)
Irving, Texas
Career information
High school Slidell (Slidell, Texas)
College Texas Wesleyan (1941–1942, 1946–1947)
BAA draft 1947 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Pittsburgh Ironmen
Coaching career1947–1960
Career history
As coach:
1947–1960 Pampa HS
Career highlights and awards

Clifton McNeely (June 22, 1919 – December 26, 2003) was an American basketball player and coach. [1] The first pick of the inaugural 1947 BAA draft, McNeely was the first player ever drafted in the National Basketball Association. However, he never played basketball professionally, instead choosing to coach high school basketball.

Basketball team sport played on a court with baskets on either end

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender's hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

The 1947 BAA draft was the inaugural draft of the Basketball Association of America (BAA), which later became the National Basketball Association (NBA). The fledgling BAA held a joint draft with the established National Basketball League (NBL). Both leagues wanted to control salaries by stamping out competitive bidding by assigning exclusive rights to the team selecting a player. The NBL had already signed 11 players, whom they did not feel should be exposed to the draft. The players included college stars Jack Smiley, Ralph Hamilton, Harry Boykoff, John Hargis, Frank Brian, and Charlie Black. As a trade-off, the BAA teams were allowed to select players before the NBL.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men's professional basketball league in North America; composed of 30 teams. It is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world. The NBA is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by FIBA as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.


Early life

Clifton McNeely was born in Greenwood, Texas to Albert McNeely and Fannie Lee Clifton. [1] He attended Slidell High School in Slidell, Texas, and graduated in 1937. [2]

Greenwood is an unincorporated community in Wise County, Texas, United States.

Slidell High School or Slidell School is a public high school located in Slidell, Texas (USA). It is part of the Slidell Independent School District located in far northeast Wise County and classified as a 1A school by the UIL. In 2015, the school was rated "Met Standard" by the Texas Education Agency.

Slidell is an unincorporated community in Wise County, Texas, United States. Slidell was named for John Slidell, a 19th-century U.S. Senator and C.S.A. diplomat.

College and military career

McNeely attended Texas Wesleyan University, where he studied Administrative Education. [3] After playing basketball at the university for the 1941–42 season, McNeely served with the United States Army Air Corps in World War II. He returned to Texas Wesleyan for the 1946–47 season and earned All-American honors after leading the NAIA in scoring, [4] and led his team to a school-best 30–4 record. [5]

Texas Wesleyan University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1890. The main campus is located in the Polytechnic Heights Neighborhood of Fort Worth, Texas, United States. Its mascot is the ram.

United States Army Air Corps air warfare branch of the US Army from 1926 to 1941

The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the aerial warfare service of the United States of America between 1926 and 1941. After World War I, as early aviation became an increasingly important part of modern warfare, a philosophical rift developed between more traditional ground-based army personnel and those who felt that aircraft were being underutilized and that air operations were being stifled for political reasons unrelated to their effectiveness. The USAAC was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926, and was part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps became the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941, giving it greater autonomy from the Army's middle-level command structure. During World War II, although not an administrative echelon, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

McNeely completed his master's degree after returning to the university in 1953. [3]

BAA draft

McNeely was selected with the first pick of the inaugural 1947 BAA draft by the Pittsburgh Ironmen, becoming the first player ever drafted in the National Basketball Association. The Ironmen had earned the first pick in the draft after attaining a 14–45 record in the first season of the Basketball Association of America. [6] However, McNeely was not interested in signing with the team, and ultimately never played a game of professional basketball. McNeely and Gene Melchiorre of the 1951 NBA draft are the only two number-one draft picks in NBA history to never play basketball professionally. The Pittsburgh Ironmen ended up folding before the start of the 1947–48 season.

Pittsburgh Ironmen

The Pittsburgh Ironmen were a charter member of the Basketball Association of America. The team was based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and played at Duquesne Gardens.

The 1946–47 BAA season was the inaugural season of the Basketball Association of America. The league launched with 11 teams playing a 60-game schedule. The postseason tournament at its conclusion, the 1947 BAA Playoffs, ended with the Philadelphia Warriors becoming the first BAA Champion, beating the Chicago Stags 4 games to 1 in the BAA Finals.

The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was a professional basketball league in North America, founded in 1946. Following its third season, 1948–49, the BAA and the National Basketball League (NBL) merged to create the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Coaching career

After working for Phillips 66 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma for four months in 1947, McNeely returned to Texas and became the head basketball coach at Pampa High School in Pampa, Texas. [6] McNeely coached at the school for thirteen years and won four state championships while leading the team to a 320–43 record. [4] He was offered coaching positions at Texas universities including University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and University of Texas at El Paso, but elected to stay at Pampa. [6] After his coaching retirement in 1960, [6] the school's gymnasium was renamed McNeely Fieldhouse in his honor. [1]

Phillips 66 American energy and logistics company

The Phillips 66 Company is an American multinational energy company headquartered in Westchase, Houston, Texas. It debuted as an independent energy company when ConocoPhillips executed a spin-off of its downstream and midstream assets. Taking its name from the 1927 "Phillips 66" trademark of ConocoPhillips predecessor Phillips Petroleum Company, Phillips 66 began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on May 1, 2012, under the ticker PSX. The company is engaged in producing natural gas liquids (NGL) and petrochemicals. The company has approximately 14,000 employees worldwide and is active in more than 65 countries. Phillips 66 is ranked No. 28 on the Fortune 500 list and No. 67 on the Fortune Global 500 list as of 2018.

Bartlesville, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Bartlesville is a city mostly in Washington County in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The population was 35,750 at the 2010 census, with a 2015 estimate of 36,595 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Bartlesville is 47 miles (76 km) north of Tulsa and 18 miles (29 km) south of the Kansas border. It is the county seat of Washington County. The Caney River runs through Bartlesville.

Pampa, Texas City in Texas, United States

Pampa is a city in Gray County, Texas, United States. The population was 17,994 as of the 2010 census. Pampa is the county seat of Gray County and is the principal city of the Pampa Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes both Gray and Roberts counties.

Later life and death

McNeely worked in school administration following his retirement from coaching. He served as an assistant principal at Castleberry High School, principal at Bridgeport High School and Denton High School, and administrator at Irving Independent School District before retiring in 1985. [1]

McNeely died December 26, 2003, at the age of 84. [1]

Personal life

McNeely married Peggy Jean Gallagher on June 14, 1947. The couple had three children: twin sons Phil and Mike, and daughter Sheryl. [1] His two sons would both go on to become high school basketball coaches. [6]

McNeely was inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame, the Slidell ISD Hall of Fame, the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas Wesleyan University Hall of Fame. [1] [2] [7]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Obituary: Clifton McNeely. December 29, 2003. Retrieved on June 1, 2017.
  2. 1 2 Hall of Fame - Slidell ISD Retrieved on June 2, 2017.
  3. 1 2 "McNeely's Return to Home at Pampa". Wise County Messenger. July 30, 1953. p. 10 via
  4. 1 2 Wellnicki, Galen. "McNeely: An educator and a motivator" Amarillo Globe-News. February 28, 1999. Retrieved on June 1, 2017.
  5. "Wanamaker, Blake Named All-American". March 23, 2011. Retrieved on June 1, 2017.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Sherrington, Kevin. "Clifton McNeely, first-ever NBA Draft selection, took his talents elsewhere". SportsDay. June 20, 2015. Retrieved on June 2, 2017.
  7. Texas Wesleyan University Rams Athletics - Hall of Fame Retrieved on June 1, 2017.