Gordon Monson (SLC Tribune) & David Aldridge (NBA.com) on Ian Clark’s path to the Jazz:
“Ian Clark is nobody’s idea of a headliner — and that’s the man’s charge, and his charm.
Coming out of high school in Memphis, the town’s college team — the University of Memphis — treated him like yesterday’s garbage. He ended up, then, sitting on the curb, eventually recruited and scooped up by Belmont, a small school in Nashville, Tenn.
“I didn’t expect to get drafted,” Clark said. “I didn’t have any expectations. … Everyone wants to hear his name called on draft night, but every guy has a different path. Some guys get drafted, some guys go overseas. I just wanted to play in the summer leagues and compete.”
Sports Illustrated called Clark: “The NBA Draft’s forgotten shooter.”
On Monday, he was remembered, signing a two-year deal with the Utah Jazz — after killing it in both the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues, where he averaged better than 16 points a game in the former and scored 33 points in the latter’s championship game.
… “Belmont showed up in March to play at EnergySolutions Arena in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region, where Clark went 8-for-14 from the floor, dropping 21 points on Arizona in the Bruins’ first-round loss.
Belmont had no chance to win that game because … well, it never wins in the NCAA Tournament. It’s been to the tournament a fistful of times since 2006, and always lost, usually in blowouts. Clark was Belmont’s leading scorer last season and now … he has a chance to score in the bigs.
His summertime prowess grabbed the Jazz’s attention, desperate as they are for scoring and outside accuracy, in particular. Utah was one of several clubs interested in signing the 6-foot-3, 175-pound combo-guard, and the opportunity they laid down for him — giving him a chance at earned minutes — even as a free agent, landed him here.
“While he was blown away at the timing of the Jazz offer — “I was shocked it came so fast,” he said — he also knew Utah was giving him that one thing as significant as the security of a two-year deal: a shot to do more than be a decorative piece at the end of the bench…..
“I wasn’t highly recruited,” he said. “But I don’t regret going to Belmont at all. I just want to inspire other people that anything is possible.”
“After eight NBA teams — including Boston, Houston, the Clippers, Golden State, Phoenix, Portland, Chicago and Milwaukee — worked him out in the spring and, ultimately, decided against taking him in the draft, hooking up with the team of his choice brought a big grin at his introduction.
“Clark, indeed, took a different route to the NBA. But his path to playing time, with the Jazz this coming season, could be more promising for him than it is for a lot of guys who were happy to hear their names called on draft night, an emotion the Jazz’s new guard never felt and never expected.”
Read the rest of the piece here: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/jazz/56661533-87/clark-jazz-monson-belmont.html.csp
David Aldridge (NBA.com) also wrote about Clark’s unconventional path to the Jazz:
“Let’s be honest. A lot of the basketball at the Vegas Summer League, like the Orlando Summer League, and like any summer league, is stultifying.
But then comes a guy like Ian Clark, from Belmont University, and his play reminds you that there is still the possibility for surprise and joy. Las Vegas is built for people like Ian Clark — even though he doesn’t gamble.
Clark’s star turn with the Warriors, who won the Summer League title over Phoenix last Monday, led to the unheralded guard from Belmont getting a two-year contract Wednesday from the Jazz. Before the month began, Clark was much more likely to spend next season playing overseas. But after a very good stint with Miami’s team in Orlando, and his 33-point explosion in the championship game against Phoenix, which brought him the game’s MVP award, Clark has a new future
“There’s obviously no guarantee that Clark will stick with the Jazz. But at least he has a chance. The recent success of players from small schools, with patron saint Stephen Curry (Davidson) leading the way, has opened up the door.
“Guys like C.J. McCollum, and the year before that, Damian Lillard, showed that guys that come from small schools can play basketball,” Clark had said earlier in the week. “That’s kind of the mindset that I have, that if you work, and if you can play, they’ll find you.”
“Belmont had that old saying posted in its locker room: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit.” Clark, who was a heralded recruit for Belmont Coach Rick Byrd, learned that lesson at Belmont.
“It is a credit to Clark, and a condemnation of supposed Draft “experts” such as myself (another reason I detest the pre-Draft process), that he could be the Co-Player of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference, and the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, and lead his Belmont team to a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and finish third in the country in 3-point percentage, and have almost nothing written about him. I mean, nothing.
“No scout or general manager or coach mentioned his name a single time to me over dozens of hours of conversations before the Draft about guard prospects. Nor did I do enough research—which should have been simple, in retrospect—to uncover him.”
“Clark had starred locally in high school in Memphis, but fell—naturally—under the radar of the city’s bigger school, the University of Memphis. By the time new Memphis Coach Josh Pastner got the job and got to town in 2009, Clark had already committed to Belmont, a Christian school three hours east, in Nashville, with a little more than 6,600 students.
” ‘He came to us already as a terrific kid, with great parents,” Byrd said. ‘That’s the folks who deserve the credit for who Ian is. He’s extremely well-liked on campus, and he is extremely humble about what he’s accomplished … all things being equal, guys are going to like having Ian on the team. He’s always going to be team first.’ ”
Read the rest of Aldridge’s story here: http://tinyurl.com/lgqlxxk