Jaylen Clark of Corona (Calif.) Centennial impresses at Classic

LA VERNE, Calif. -- Corona (Calif.) Centennial freshman Jaylen Clark is opening eyes in the Pac-12.

LA VERNE, Calif. -- The first piece of advice that 2017 four-star UCLA signee Jalen Hill gave to freshman Jaylen Clark was: "First, when you get interviewed, say smart stuff."

Not bad advice, especially when the Bruins, CaliforniaArizona, Cal State-Fullerton and Pepperdine starting to pay attention to the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder.

Right now, Clark profiles as a wing, and that's where most programs see him, but he has the physicality and toughness to bang inside once he gets to a projected altitude of 6-foot-8. He's a smart slasher who can crash the boards and also step out for the occasional three-pointer (he hit two of four from beyond the arc in the opening round of The Classic at Damien High School on Monday). He doesn't get much lift on his jumper, but he's got a lot of already-sharp skills even at a young age, and they're getting sharper.

"I used to slack," said Clark. "I used to have an on-and-off switch, so I'd come to practice two minutes before it started, and I'm getting there 30 minutes early, now, working out with the other coach before practice. Stuff like that, they've taught me."

Hill, especially, has been a careful instructor. He's taught Clark "everything," Clark said.

"He walked me through all the plays when I first got here, taught me how to jump off two feet, so I can dunk off two, and helps me on my shot in the morning," Clark said. "I know he's got my back. If we get into scuffles, he's always the first one there."

Clark is a two or a three at this point, but he definitely has the athleticism to move out to a stretch four. In his first five games, he averaged 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He wants to get more vocal on defense, and shore up his handle -- he is averaging 3.2 turnovers per game. Those should all come with time.

As for the recruiting element of his life, he hasn't given it a lot of thought, but he does have an idea of what he's looking for in a school: "I think a school with great education, that fits my personality. I want to stay on the West Coast. I don't like the snow. It could change, but as of right now, I want to stay on the West Coast."

Clark and the Huskies face off against Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei in the final of The Classic at La Verne (Calif.) Damien at 8:30 tonight.

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