top of page

Jayden McClain: Superstar seventh grader with six Division I basketball offers

Jayden McClain is not your typical middle schooler.

The Northern Kentuckian does not just sit through math class thinking about friendships and homework, she also thinks about the six Division I offers she has to play women’s basketball in college. 

At 6-foot-5 and 13 years old, Jayden has received a considerable amount of attention for her rapid growth spurt and talent with a basketball.

It comes as no surprise though to her mother, Samantha McClain, who got a glimpse of her daughter’s future the moment she entered this world measuring two feet long.


“I knew she was going to be tall because I’m 6-foot-4 and her dad's 7-foot-1, but just to actually see it you're like, oh my gosh. Like what did I do?” Samantha said.

As the daughter of two basketball stars, there’s no question where Jayden got her talent from. Her mom took up basketball at Cincinnati State while Jayden’s father, Anthony McClain, was just down the road playing at Cincinnati.

However, Jayden did not start her athletic career in basketball right away. She first decided to give gymnastics a go at an early age, but it was not long until Jayden expressed interest in doing what her parents loved. 

In kindergarten, Jayden joined her first Amateur Athletic Union, or AAU, team with Lady Future, and at 10 years old, she made her goal very clear to Samantha: she wanted to play at a big college.

“It is exciting to watch her from when she was six years old to now and seeing her growth and development,” Samantha said.

Samantha said Jayden is still processing the extent of the attention she is receiving at a young age, as she is just enjoying playing basketball with her friends and going to school.

“I try not to think about it so that I don’t put too much pressure on myself,” Jayden said. “I try to make sure that my grades are good so that I can play during the season.”

Along with keeping up those grades, Jayden fits in time for practices and training as well as trips to colleges she has received offers from: University of Kentucky, Xavier, Miami, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati. 

“It is very emotional, especially when we got our first Division I offer from Cincinnati,” Samantha said. “I've grown up there, she's been there – that was the first court she stepped on. I can remember her running around with the ball when she was one (year-old) and she could barely walk. So, when I saw her put that uniform on, I lost it.”

In addition to the AAU season, Jayden recently started playing on the JV and Varsity girl's basketball teams at Ryle High School.

Even though Jayden still has to finish up middle school, she is excited for what high school is expected to bring.

“I’ll be able to drive myself around and get myself a whole bunch of shoes,” Jayden said. “It’s going to be fun. A lot of working out and a lot of eating right.”

In the meantime, Jayden still has a long way to progress athletically along with the daily experiences of being a middle schooler and figuring out who she is. It’s a process that Samantha is prepared to help Jayden go through and ensure she never loses the confidence she already possesses. 

“I can somewhat relate to what she's going through because it is hard to just find who you are and to feel comfortable in your body,” Samantha said. “That's one thing that I definitely try to make sure — that she is confident and comfortable in her body because it is hard being tall. If you're not getting made fun of for your height, you're getting made fun of something else because of your height.”

Jayden’s journey to play basketball in college is just beginning. It will be an emotional ride for both Jayden and Samantha, but it’s a ride that the two of them are excited to enjoy together.


bottom of page