BLAIRSBURG - Clay Harreld's play this winter made one thing perfectly clear: His athletic future is on the basketball hardwood.
Briar Cliff University men's head coach Nic Nelson wholeheartedly agrees.
On Wednesday, Harreld, a Northeast Hamilton senior, accepted a scholarship offer from Briar Cliff and signed his letter of intent with his parents, Mary and Mike Harreld, by his side. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard will enroll at the Sioux City school in the fall.
Northeast Hamilton senior Clay Harreld (front, center) signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Briar Cliff University on Wednesday. Parents (front row) Mike and Mary Harreld, Trojans’ head coach Brandon Kelley (back, left) and Briar Cliff head coach Nic Nelson were all in attendance at the signing.
"We are thrilled to have Clay join the Briar Cliff basketball program," Nelson said in a press release. "He is an explosive athlete and a very good shooter with an ability to score in a variety of ways. More importantly, he is an extremely tough competitor. I expect Clay to have a big impact on our program during his career."
Harreld was arguably the top talent in Class 1A throughout the season, as he led Northeast Hamilton to a 23-1 record and the Iowa Star Conference championship.
Harreld led the state, regardless of class, in scoring at 28.3 points per game. He shot 54.2 percent from the field and also collected 7.5 rebounds a night.
The multiple-time all-conference selection highlighted his season by exploding for 51 points - the top single-game performance in the state in 2011-12 - in a 90-61 victory over Tripoli on Dec. 9. He buried 18 of 22 shots from the field, including 9 of 11 3-pointers, in the outburst.
Harreld broke into the Northeast Hamilton starting lineup late in his freshman season, and he heard his name called prior to tip-off in the final 79 contests of his career. The Trojans were a remarkable 70-9 in those games.
He averaged 15.3 points per game as a junior and reached 1,000 career points early in his senior season.
Harreld has been more than a standout basketball player for the Trojans though. He finished his football career last fall with a first-team all-state award in Class 8-man from the Iowa Newspaper Association. He ranks second on the state's all-time 8-man leaderboard for touchdown receptions (52), he's fifth all-time in receiving yards (2,203) and sixth in receptions (110).
In the spring, Harreld has taken part in a slew of events at the state track and field meet. As an individual, he placed 11th in the 1A high jump as a sophomore and eighth a year ago when he cleared 6-2.
Central Iowa has been a hotbed of talent for Briar Cliff in recent years. Former Northeast Hamilton player Derek Mechaelsen played for the Chargers, as did former Webster City point guard Brett Ratcliff.
Currently, Fort Dodge St. Edmond graduate John Engler is on the Chargers' roster, as are Iowa Falls-Alden graduate Michael Collison and West Marshall graduate Jake Shipley, who leads the team in scoring at 18.6 points per game.
Briar Cliff, a NAIA school that competes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, is currently 14-6 this season.