Kentucky freshman Terrence Clarke says he didn't go the G League route because he 'needed Coach Cal' | Zagsblog
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Sunday / November 29.
  • Kentucky freshman Terrence Clarke says he didn’t go the G League route because he ‘needed Coach Cal’

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Back in April, rumors were hot and heavy that the NBA G League was courting Terrence Clarke for their Select Team and was dangling a $500,000 salary in front of him.

    The NBA G League wanted to add Clarke, a projected NBA lottery pick in 2021, to a roster that also included Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd — and now includes Jonathan Kuminga, Daishen Nix and Kai Sotto.

    But the 6-foot-7 Boston native quickly took to Twitter to say that he remained committed to Kentucky and wasn’t going the pro route.

    Asked about his decision on Wednesday, Clarke said, “I feel like the college aspect gets everybody ready for the next level. One of the main things for me is, I really just wanted to stick it out. Coach Cal is obviously going to get me ready. I kind of think that I needed Coach Cal, you know what I mean?

    “Just so I can stay mentally ready and develop my mind and maturity here. One of the main things for me, the G League and stuff like that wasn’t really on my mind. Especially when I got here, I just knew that it would be a great situation for me.”

    Now part of another No. 1 recruiting class at Kentucky that also includes fellow projected lottery pick B.J. Boston, Clarke is already being compared to former Kentucky stars John Wall and Anthony Davis.

    “Oozes with talent,” Kentucky assistant Bruiser Flint said this week. “Oozes with talent. Cal, when I used to talk to him, even before this, would talk about him in the same way to me as the John Walls and the Anthony Davises and things like that. So, he has that type of talent, but he’s still got a lot to learn. But, he’s a really, really talented player.”

    Still, Flint said Clarke is a typical hyper-talented freshman who needs to “take care of the small things.”

    “Typical kid in high school (who) dominated and would sometimes look over the little things,” he said. “Got to take care of the small things. Anybody’s that’s been around Cal knows he sort of takes care of those types of things for you. So, he makes sure you look at those types of things. That’s why those guys become good players.”

    Asked about those comments, Clarke said, “I feel like every day Coach has something to say to me. I just kind of take it in and work as hard as I can to understand what he’s saying, because obviously Coach Cal is a great coach, one of the best college basketball coaches in the world. For him being on me every day, I just take it as him wanting me to be great and as good as possible. I just work as hard as I can every day.”

    As I reported over on Forbes Sports Money back in May, Clarke flew cross country then to work out with Kentucky freshmen Boston and Devin Askew under the tutelage of NBA guard Darren Collison at the Ethika apparel warehouse in Lake Forest, Calif.

    “The conversation was kind of brought up when my season at Brewster (Academy) was finished,” Clarke said. “Devin and B.J. just told me that I could come out there and stay with them and work out with them. For me, those are my future teammates and I thought there would be no problem with it.

    “Me, personally, I worked as hard as ever in Boston, but in LA we worked even hard. I feel like we worked out about four or five times a day, so I knew the situation would be great. I stayed with BJ for the time being. I stayed there for about a month, a month and a half probably. At the end of the day, we were just working. I knew that if I could get out there and work with my teammates we could build chemistry early. Our main goal is to win a championship, so obviously that was a great situation.”

    Collison said in May the training would benefit the players and Kentucky going forward.

    “I’m seeing three young men that are eager to do something special in college,” Collison, the former NBA first-round pick and 10-year NBA veteran, said by phone.

    “It’s not all the time that you get to see kids their age, especially freshmen, try to work something out together and build that chemistry and that continuity right away.”

    Now with the G League rumors behind him, Clarke is ready for his first — and likely only — year at Kentucky.

    “I just want to be as mature as possible for the next level and I knew that being here is one of the things that could help me in that situation,” Clarke said. “Like I said, Coach Cal said this school isn’t for everybody. That’s really a fact. For me, I just want to work as hard as I can mentally and physically, so I can play my best this year and if next year I go to the draft or whatever the case may be, that will be it.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.