Continuing with our Getting To Know Your Utah Jazz segment, we focus our attention to another newcomer to the team. Ian Clark.
Clark played 4 years of Varsity basketball at Germantown High School in Germantown, Tennessee. Clark led the team in scoring his senior season and, according to his Belmont player biography, he was described as “a dynamic, multi-dimensional guard who could make an instant impact on both ends of the floor.” That was surely the case as Clark’s impact helped him average 23 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. With quality numbers like that, Clark was sure to receive offers from major programs, right? Not so fast.
Clark sat by and watched as his fellow high school teammates got flooded with big time offers. Leslie McDonald went to North Carolina. Austin Hollins headed to Minnesota. Ferrakohn Hall chose Seton Hall. Many others with offers chose to stay close to home and chose to play for Memphis.
Clark’s offers all consisted of Mid-Major schools. Davidson, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee State, and Murray State all expressed there interest, but Clark decided to accept his scholarship offer and suited up for Belmont.
Entering his freshman year, Clark made an immediate impact with the Bruins. Averaging 14.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, Clark was named as the Conference Freshman of the Year. Along with that, Clark was named to the A-SUN All-Conference 2nd team, as well as being named as a Mid-Major Freshman All-American by CollegeInsider.com.
Clark’s sophomore season was another improvement, as the Bruins went 19-1 in conference play and won the A-SUN Conference regular season championship. They went into the conference tournament as the #1 seed and finished off by winning the tournament championship. Clark was named to the all-tournament team and also was named to the A-SUN All-Conference 1st team. Clark helped lead the Bruins to an automatic birth into the NCAA Tournament, but ended up losing in the round of 64 to Wisconsin.
Clark continued improving every year at Belmont. He capped off his collegiate career by leading the Bruins to a 3rd consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, only to lose again in the Round of 64. Clark’s season wasn’t a failure as he was named as Co-OVC Conference Player of the Year alongside Murray State point guard, Isaiah Canaan. Along with that honor, Clark was also named as the OVC Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
A guy that has won awards and honors such as a Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and 1st team all-conference, all while also shooting the ball nearly 55% from the field, 46% from behind the arc, and averaging over 18 points per game should get him some attention. He didn’t.
Clark went undrafted during the 2013 NBA Draft. Mainly because Clark has been referred to as a “tweener”. At 6’3″ and 175 pounds, Clark is undersized by NBA standards to play shooting guard and not a natural point guard. However, that didn’t stop Clark from coming out and proving doubters wrong during Summer League action this off season. Clark suited up for the Miami Heat during the Orlando Summer League and also the Golden State Warriors during the Las Vegas Summer League.
Clark faced the Jazz during his first game in Orlando, putting up 15 points on his future teammates. However, the Jazz got the win. Clark is mainly remembered for his performance with the Warriors during the Las Vegas Summer League Championship, where he put up 33 points on 7 made 3 pointers.
After his performance in Vegas, Clark started receiving offers from multiple teams. One of those teams, the Utah Jazz. After contemplating all of his offers he received from other NBA teams and clubs overseas, Clark chose to sign a contract with the Jazz. Clark said in an interview last month with NBA.com that he chose the Jazz over his other offers because of the team’s foundation of young players and the opportunity to break in quickly.
Now that Clark is with the Jazz, the question is what role can he play with this team. The Jazz have the opportunity to do a couple different things with him. Clark could be used in a small rotation for the Jazz. If they decide to do that, Clark could be put at the backup shooting guard position, which would most likely move Brandon Rush to the backup small forward. The Jazz could also decide that they want to see how Clark handles a point guard position and put him there behind Trey Burke, moving John Lucas III to be the 3rd point guard. Which is he, though? Point guard or shooting guard?
“I look at myself as a combo guard, being able to utilize my shooting ability when needed, but also being able to bring the ball upcourt and initiate the offense and get guys going,” Clark said during his interview with NBA.com last month. “I’m definitely not a pure 1 (point guard), but I’ve been working a lot this summer on my ballhandling and making the right reads, ball screens and defense.”
We don’t exactly know how he will be used, but with just a few short weeks left until training camp starts, we don’t have much longer to wait to find out. However Clark is used, he should see the court. His shooting skills will help out coming off the bench.
If he plays with a chip on his shoulder this season, it could be a good thing for the Jazz. Going out to prove doubters wrong is what Clark has been doing since high school, and proving them wrong is exactly what he has done. Clark should fit right into the youth movement in Salt Lake City. I for one am extremely excited for him and can’t wait to see what he can do for this team. Ian Clark…welcome to Utah!