This past week, the Terrence Clarke buzz picked up dramatically. It all started when recruiting insiders Andrew Slater, Jerry Meyer and Corey Evans all simultaneously put in a crystal ball pick for Kentucky. The five-star 2021 prospect has been very open about his intrigue towards reclassifying to the class of 2020 and getting one step closer to his dream. A couple days later, Clarke listed his final six schools (Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Memphis, Boston College and Texas Tech) and said he will be committing on September 14th. This led people to speculate that he would follow through with the reclassification process, but Clarke cleared the air on his Twitter page later that day, saying “ I am a member of the class of ‘21. I will explore the possibility of reclassifying in the spring after taking the SAT & ACT and evaluating my academic performance during the upcoming school year. Stay Tuned.”
The Boston native is one of the most prolific scorers in the entire country, regardless of class. Clarke has the build of a prototypical NBA two-guard, listed at 6’7” and 190 pounds. He is also a crazy athlete that is extremely functional for his game. Clarke is very bouncy and has great body control in the air, that combination allows him to finish over and around defenders consistently. While he is a springy athlete and a very effective slasher, his game is predicated around shot-making. Part of what makes Clarke such an elite prospect is his potential as a lethal movement shooter. His stroke is as pure as they come, and he is already comfortable shooting off pin-downs, curls and ball screens. While he isn’t known for his playmaking, Clarke usually operates on the ball due to his dynamic scoring and pull up shooting. This past season in the EYBL, Clarke’s usage skyrocketed. Not only did he up his scoring by 10 points per game, but he also learned how to leverage his scoring gravity and more than doubled his assist totals. His offensive arsenal is second to few, if any, in the country. According to nbadraft.net, Clarke’s birthday is September 6th, 2001. He turns 18 this week, which makes him nearly a year older than his peers in the class of 2021. That isn’t meant to be a knock in any way, but it further supports his case of reclassifying. His age, skills and approach are mature enough to expedite the process, but it’s up to his work in the classroom from here on out. Whether he stays in 2021 or moves up, Clarke is committing in two weeks. I’m going to dive into how he would fit at each of his six finalists.
Since the Wildcats are viewed as the favorite, it’s only right to start here. This scenario is pretty tricky to project, because Clarke would find himself in two completely different roles, depending on which high school class he is in. If he does indeed reclass, Clarke becomes another elite chef in a potentially crowded kitchen. Five-star shooting guard BJ Boston is already committed to the Wildcats for 2020, and they appear to be the favorites to land Jalen Green and Josh Christopher as well. As we’ve seen over and over again, there’s only one basketball on the court. While I think Clarke is the second best NBA prospect of the four, I don’t think he would be utilized to the fullest extent, especially when you consider that Kentucky is likely to strike out on an elite point guard in 2020. While it’s unlikely UK lands all four, I don’t see why they would even pursue that fit. The more likely outcome is that UK feels they might miss out on Green, Christopher or both, and are pursuing Clarke to go alongside BJ Boston, which I’m a huge fan of. If Clarke stays in 2021, he’ll be the centerpiece of Kentucky’s class and they can acquire facilitators to compliment his scoring prowess. They have heavy interest in 2021 point guard, Devin Askew. I wrote about Askew before his breakout performance at Peach Jam, I love his passing, toughness, passion, shooting and overall IQ. I think he would be an A+ fit as a backcourt partner for Terrence Clarke.
While all signs point towards Kentucky, never count the Blue Devils out. If Clarke does choose to reclassify to 2020, I don’t think he could find a better fit than Duke. Coach K has already received pledges from five-stars Jeremy Roach and Jalen Johnson. Both are high IQ players who impact every facet of the game on both ends. They are both extremely capable of scoring the ball, but neither of them are truly known for that. Pairing Clarke with two highly skilled and intelligent initiators (Johnson as the secondary) would do wonders for his game and draft stock. I think the game would come very easy to him, he can get more spot up and off ball screen reps which will be very helpful for his development. If Coach K could somehow pull this off, I think it could go down as one of his best recruiting classes. If Clarke chooses Durham for 2021, he’ll be the headliner and Duke will likely try to pair him with another big wing, such as Patrick Baldwin, Jonathan Kuminga or AJ Griffin Jr. In my opinion, Clarke would be at his best alongside a true point guard, the Blue Devils would probably put more pressure on Kennedy Chandler, Devin Askew or Cam Hayes, in hopes of landing one.
Selfishly, this is my favorite fit for Clarke. I’m a huge advocate for Chris Beard and the program he’s built, and it’s been awesome to even see him in the running for top five prospects (first RJ Hampton, and now Clarke). Ross Homan at The Stepien has consistently raved about the Red Raiders strength and conditioning program, and rightfully so. Clarke doesn’t need much fine tuning, but he could add some muscle to his frame. While Lubbock isn’t usually known as a destination for NBA prospects, they’ve churned out a top 20 pick in each of the last two drafts. Reminiscing on Jarrett Culver’s sophomore campaign, I’m very optimistic about Clarke’s potential offensive production if he chooses Texas Tech. Culver, like Clarke, is viewed as a secondary initiator in the NBA. While Culver has much better vision and passing ability, Clarke has a better handle, first step and more wiggle. Clarke is also a better shotmaker, both off the catch and dribble. Given all of that, I think it’s safe to say Terrence Clarke would be putting up numbers in the Big 12. I don’t have much of an opinion on his defense yet, but if there’s one thing Chris Beard knows, it’s defense. Clarke has intriguing physical tools, given his height, coordination, explosion and twitch. If he can become a plus defender, that would be hard to pass on in the NBA Draft, no matter what year it is. Whether he reclasses or not, Clarke would be the guy at Texas Tech. While it’s not likely Chris Beard gets him to Lubbock, it’s another step in the right direction for one of the best programs in college basketball.
This is definitely the hardest scenario to project going forward. Memphis just hauled in a monster class of two five-stars and five four-stars. While most of them definitely have their sights set on the NBA, it’s going to be interesting to see who flourishes despite their endless depth. Since their roster turnover is nearly unpredictable, it’s hard to get a feel for how he would fit on the court. While Penny has gotten signatures from multiple top recruits in his short tenure, most notably James Wiseman, he has local or AAU ties with many of them. That shouldn’t discredit him in any way, and I certainly endorse coaches recruiting their state, but it would be naive to say he didn’t have a built in head start. With Clarke, he has been on the same playing field as everyone else, steering him away from the true blue bloods would do wonders for the refurbished Memphis Tigers. Whether it’s for 2020 or 2021, Terrence Clarke choosing Memphis could lead to a power shift across the recruiting scene.
Despite coming off a disastrous season, the Bruins were able to earn a spot in Clarke’s final six. Landing the Boston native would give new head head coach, Mick Cronin, a jumpstart towards guiding UCLA back to their glory days. If Clarke were to reclassify, he would make a lethal backcourt with 2020 five-star point guard Daishen Nix, who committed last month. Nix is one of the best passers in the high school game, using a unique combination of creativity, vision and IQ. His pass first mentality would compliment Clarke’s scoring ability very well and instantly make the Bruins a contender in the Pac-12. If Clarke stays in his class, he would give Cronin a five-star in each of his first two classes, which is extremely impressive.
Last but not least, the hometown team. While this is probably the biggest longshot of them all, there are reasons why Clarke would be drawn towards Boston College, other than the geographical fit. While the Eagles haven’t had much team success as of late, Jerome Robinson was drafted in the 2018 lottery, and Ky Bowman just inked a two way contract with the Warriors. BC does a great job of giving their scoring guards/wings freedom within the offense, which boosted the draft stock of Robinson, as he was able to show his full arsenal. Clarke listing Boston College in his final six could just be a courtesy to his hometown, but it’s a better basketball fit than people think.
Whenever he graduates, and wherever he goes to college, Terrence Clarke will be an elite college player and NBA prospect. Stay tuned for his decision on September 14th and keep tabs on his reclassification talks throughout the year, Terrence Clarke has two big decisions ahead of him.