Clark declares NBA intentions

Louisville will honor three seniors in Wednesday's home finale against Seton Hall. The Cardinals also will say good-bye to junior forward Earl Clark, who has declared his intentions to enter the 2009 NBA Draft.

Following a 10-point, 13-rebound effort in Sunday's 62-58 win over No. 8 Marquette, Earl Clark, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward, told reporters in the locker room that he'll participate in Louisville's senior night festivities during Wednesday's home finale against Seton Hall.

"I'm just ready to move on and pursue my dreams," Clark said.

Clark would become the second junior to be honored on senior night during Rick Pitino's tenure at UofL, joining former star Francisco Garcia. Garcia was selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft.

Earl Clark will play his final home game at
Louisville Wednesday against Seton Hall.

The news shouldn't come as a surprise. Pitino has stated all season that Clark was headed for the NBA next season.

Clark nearly went pro following his sophomore season. After a strong NCAA Tournament performance last season – Clark led Louisville to the East Region Final, averaging 14.5 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 62 percent in four NCAA games – Clark declared for the NBA Draft before deciding to return to Louisville this season.

This season, Clark has recorded 13 doubles and leads the Cardinals in scoring (13.3) and rebounding (8.7). Though Clark's field goal percentage has dropped six points from last season, the New Jersey native has upped his scoring, rebounding and assist averages this season. Clark needs only 52 points to become Louisville's 60th career 1,000-point scorer.

"The thing that Earl's got to realize is he can't bring the same game each night," Pitino said last week. "In other words, (his) ball handling is going to be effective on certain nights. It's not going to be effective other nights. There are going to be games where the dribble is (his) enemy rather than his ally."

Clark is projected by as a lottery pick in June's NBA Draft – the website projects him to go 11th in its latest draft projection. rates Clark the No. 3 junior available and ranks him the 10th-best overall prospect.

"Clark is likely to be considered one of the great riddles of this upcoming draft, as it's extremely difficult to project how he will develop over the next few years," the website said. "He's probably too talented to fall out of the lottery, and with a strong NCAA tournament, could possibly even boost his stock into the top five."

Pitino said Clark needs to become a better student of the game to reach his considerable potential.

"When I was a young assistant coach in the pros I admired Bernard King because every single game he would sit down and ask me ‘where can I score, where are they coming from?," Pitino said. "He just studied the scouting report so much. Bernard was the leading scorer in the league and he wanted every little advantage. And that's what Earl's got to do. He's got to study what they're going to do to him."

Clark has scored in double figures in 29 of Louisville's last 33 games dating back to last season. He is second on the team this season in assists and ranks seventh in rebounding in the Big East.

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