If you have ever met Gary Clark you know he may be one of the most genuinely nice people you will ever meet. When Coach Cronin speaks about him it has been his gift and curse when he’s on the basketball court. One press conference Cronin says, “I moved my foot into residency to Gary’s backside.” I may have cleaned that up, but you get my point.
Last year everyone who watched Clark knew man UC has a major find right here. In a state of college basketball you see all the flash and glamour of the one and done player or players it was cool to see a kid who you can tell was a piece of clay that could be molded with the right coaching staff. He started from day one and had a very solid season being named to the AAC All-Rookie Team, earned AAC Rookie of the Week and earned AAC Weekly Honor Roll. Because of his 7.8 points (52.4% from the field), 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals stat line everyone knew Gary had more to give and he should naturally make strides.
As good as Clark was you could see he wasn’t comfortable facing up his opponent which made it tougher to be effective in the post. So teams would play off of him and give him the mid-range shot all day, but he wasn’t comfortable with the shot. During this off season Clark game back with a face up game, but at the beginning of the season he wasn’t confident in all the hard work he put in during the off season. As the season has gone on we have seen him go from a guy who was passive with clean face up opportunities to a person who is taking what the defense is giving him. At the beginning of the season would you think Clark would be connecting from long range at a clip higher than 50%? That answer is no, but while he hasn’t shot many the shots he take are good. Would you think that Clark would be making face up jumper from the elbow? Or driving by his man if they play him too close? Nope, we knew he was good in the open floor and has a great post-up game, but now Clark is able to score from anywhere on the floor and he’s being more aggressive as he’s comfortable with these skills he possesses and wants everyone to know it.
With three games left in the regular season he has the stat line of 11.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 58% from the field and 54.2% from three. Before conference play started he was averaging 9.8 points and 7.9 rebounds during conference play he has pushed those numbers to 12.2 points and 9.5 rebounds. You see (no pun intended) his season stats on the top and his improvement during conference play has been major, 2.4 point increase and 1.6 rebound increase isn’t anything to sneeze at.
As good as Clark is playing the sophomore will only be better next year and the Bearcats need to enjoy the kid from a small town of Clayton, North Carolina.