In 1947, the Pittsburgh Ironmen drafted Clifton McNeely No. 1 in the first draft of the Basketball Association of America, which became the NBA. He didn't play but went into coaching instead.
Clifton McNeely coached solely at Pampa High School for 13 years. McNeely’s impact still reverberates a half-century later, setting a boys basketball standard in the Texas Panhandle that has yet to be matched.
McNeely began his career in Pampa in 1947 after leaving Texas Wesleyan, where he was the national NAIA scoring champion. Pampa won back-to-back 4A state titles in 1953-54 and 1958-59 with a 31-0 state title in 1959. The team had a 72-game winning streak from 1952 to 1955.
McNeely left Pampa in 1960; in his wake were four state championships in Texas’ highest class, two other appearances in the state tournament, a 72-game winning streak, overflow crowds of more than 2,500 that packed Pampa’s gym for each game, and the respect from his players and a community that never would wane. McNeely taught his players more than basketball.
Clifton McNeely died on Dec. 26, 2003, at age 84.