John Calipari made a significant move on the recruiting trail this week, extending his very first scholarship offer of the summer to a high-profile prospect in the class of 2022.
In a Zoom conference call with the entire Kentucky coaching staff Thursday evening, 2022 five-star prospect Skyy Clark received a scholarship, making him the first guard in the rising junior class to earn an offer from the program.
“Man what a week it’s been,” Clark announced after receiving the offer. “Blessings on blessings. Huge honor to receive an offer from Kentucky. Thank you to Coach Calipari, Coach Justus, Coach Payne, and Coach Barbee for believing in me. I am honored. All glory to God.”
Friday afternoon, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Brentwood, TN joined KSR’s Sources Say Podcast to discuss the highly anticipated offer and break down his recruitment from top to bottom.
What did Clark have to say? Check out the interview in its entirety below.
What was it like receiving an offer from Kentucky?
Psh, I don’t even know what to say, it was just a huge blessing,” Clark said. “We were on a Zoom call with Coach [John] Calipari, Coach [Tony] Barbee, Coach Kenny Payne, Coach [Joel] Justus, and Coach [Brady] Kennedy, just hearing [Calipari] say, “You have an official scholarship to Kentucky,” it didn’t even seem real. It’s something I’ve been waiting on for a very long time.
Who was more excited, you or your dad?
I was really excited, but I think my dad might have been more excited than me. It’s definitely a blessing.
Did you know an offer was coming?
Me and my dad, in the back of our heads, we kind of thought, “Maybe?” I got the North Carolina offer this week, so I wondered if I would get an offer. But I wasn’t expecting anything. It was definitely a huge surprise.
How did the North Carolina offer unfold?
I was making a Tik Tok, and I saw I was getting a call. I was about to just let it ring, but I saw who it was, and I said, “Oh snap, Coach Roy [Williams] is calling me!” So I went outside and we talked for like 30 minutes, and then he offered me. That was super special, I actually started tearing up.
How does it feel knowing you’re the first recruit to receive an offer without John Calipari seeing you play in person at this stage?
It’s a huge honor, just knowing that he’s seen film and stuff, but never got to actually go see me play. Knowing I’m the first kid that he offered without seeing me play in person is huge. It’s a blessing to me.
What was the rest of the conversation like with Kentucky?
We talked about their plan, how they’re treating Covid with their players, what they’re doing and how they’re handling all that. And then we just had a normal conversation.
What is Kentucky’s plan right now for keeping players safe at the basketball facilities?
Coach Cal has it all figured out. He said it wasn’t easy, but basically, none of the kids can contact each other in person. They all have their own dorms and their own bathrooms. They’re only letting one person in the gym at a time, one person on the shooting machine. Coach Cal said they can’t even go in their offices yet. He said his [office] mail has been getting mailed to him [at home] recently. They do the shooting machine, get up shots, then they sanitize the balls after. He’s got it all figured out, they do Zoom calls with them and everything. They’re getting the kids tested, I think once or twice a week, something like that.
Has the coronavirus affected your training at all?
I’m living safe, I’m not really around a lot of people. The people that are around me I know, and I know they don’t have Covid or anything. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a trainer, and I do football work, as well. Just working on my first step, my footwork, and my agility, stuff like that.
What have the case numbers been like in Brentwood? Has there been a recent spike?
I believe there’s a spike, I don’t know if it’s been in just Brentwood or not, but I know there’s been one in Tennessee. In Davidson County, if you’re not wearing a mask, you’re fined $50. So yeah, it’s crazy. I don’t think it’ll affect my workout schedule, I feel pretty safe with what I have going on right now.
What position would you play if you played football?
Wide receiver, yup. I played flag when I was younger, that was the only time I played, but I got MVP at receiver back then. Yeah, my mom wasn’t going to let us put the pads on [haha].
What has training been like at your new school?
Training out here is next level. Coach Jamal [Richardson], he’s trained Darius [Garland] his whole entire life, and he’s with the Cleveland Cavaliers now. Coach Jamal is one of the best trainers I have ever been with. Coach Holt, the one who I be on the football field with, he’s next level. He trains NFL players and everything. I can already feel my vertical has grown two or three inches already.
How has Jamal Richardson (Clark’s trainer) helped your game since you’ve gotten to Brentwood?
Probably just simplifying the game because I feel like, if you ask any trainer, there’s really not much you can teach me moves-wise. I can do pretty much any dribble move you need me to do, I have the dribbles down. Now, I’m working on coming off pin-downs, off down screens, catch and shoot, learning how to play off the ball.
Are you going to play more on- or off-ball at the next level? Are you primarily going to play point guard?
I’m still a point guard, but if Coach Cal or whoever I play for need me to play off the ball, I can do that. In the NBA, you’re not going to always have the ball in your hand. Point guards, you’re going to pass it to the wing, come down, come off some screens, catch and shoot. I’m just looking for different ways to score. It makes you a lot harder to guard if you can do stuff without the ball. Like, Steph Curry, he comes off a whole bunch of down screens before he shoots the ball, and it makes him ten times harder to guard.
How have you developed as a shooter in recent years?
I wouldn’t say shooting is a weakness. As a freshman, I shot like 20% from three, and then this past year as a sophomore, I shot 39% from three. This year, I plan on shooting 50 or 60% from three. I only shoot NBA threes when I work out, so the high school threes should be a lot easier for me this year. So yeah, I wouldn’t consider it a weakness, but it’s definitely something I can improve.
It’s just reps, getting it more consistent, I think that’s been my biggest problem. I’ll go a full week shooting well and then have two or three days where I’ll be streaky a bit before I turn it back on.
That’s one thing I’m trying to work on, just shooting more. When I get to college and the NBA level, I’m definitely going to have to start shooting more. That’s something I’m working on, coming down, pulling up; that’ll make it easier for me to get to the basket. If you’re coming down, you hit a three, come down again, hit a three. Then you come back, get by the dude, hit a mid-range. Come back, boom, hesi. He jumps, and you can get to the basket again.
How do you think you stacked up in these recent pro runs against NBA talent such as Darius Garland, Robert Covington, and Alex Poythress?
I think I’m holding my own pretty well. It’s definitely helping my game a whole lot. I played in the pro run on Saturday and I was doing good in that, but then I did the college and high school run on Sunday, and it was night and day. Scoring was so easy. I don’t think I even took a jump shot, I think I took it to the basket every time I wanted to. It’s definitely helping a whole lot.
Who is the hardest player to guard at the pro runs?
[Former Golden State Warriors backup point guard] Ian [Clark]. Darius [Garland] is usually on my team, but yeah, Darius and Ian are different. Ian, he does some stuff I’ve never seen before. His footwork and his pace, his jump shot, it’s next level.
How long are these runs going to be going on this summer?
From the looks of it, every single weekend. We’re doing it [Saturday], next week, the week after that. Pretty much every weekend.
One thing that stands out about you is your build. Do you strength train or are you just naturally gifted with size?
Yeah, nothing you see came easy. It’s all hard work. When I was at the Mamba Academy in California, I was there like three or four times a week lifting weights and doing a whole bunch of stuff. Now I’m out here, I usually go to Resilient [Health and Performance], which is like right around the corner, or I work with Coach Holt on the football field.
What has been the biggest difference between Brentwood and Los Angeles? Are you enjoying it more where you are now?
One thing that’s different is the weather. That’s one thing I miss about Cali, the weather. I miss the weather and my friends in Cali. But people are great out here, they’re showing great hospitality welcoming me and my family. There’s nothing to hate out here outside the weather. The weather out here is bipolar. That humidity messes up my hair [laughs].
Makur Maker became the first five-star recruit to commit to an HBCU, choosing Howard this week. What are your thoughts on that decision?
It’s a game-changing route and I respect Makur for making that decision. If that’s what he thinks will help bring a change, then all power to him. It’s a great route.
Is the HBCU route something you’d consider?
It’s definitely something I’ll consider.
As one of the most prominent voices in high school basketball, what does it mean to you that people look up to you for guidance and advice in a time we’re living in right now?
It’s a huge blessing knowing God put me in this position, I feel like He gave me the platform I have to reach people and make them feel they have a voice. Everybody has a voice, it doesn’t matter if you have a million followers or one follower, it’s going to take everybody to make a change.
What has been your experience as a young Black athlete in today’s world and the difficult times we’re living in?
Yeah, I’ve had several experiences, especially this last year. I would get flicked off, I’d get called the N-word a lot. Being an athlete, you don’t experience it as much because they’re rooting for us and love what we do. But yeah, when I was little and lived in Atlanta, we lived 20 minutes away from a KKK headquarter, and that’s probably when we experienced it the most. One time, someone put a snapping turtle on our front porch, which was random. I haven’t experienced it as much as some other people, but I’ve definitely had my occurrences.
One game last year, this one team, right before we played them, my coach overheard them say some racial things. Another game, I got an and-one and I started flexing at the crowd, and they flicked me off. When I shot my free throw, I heard some N-words. It happens sometimes during games.
Since I’ve been out in Brentwood, I haven’t experienced anything racial during my time at the protests, at the clean-ups, and when I did the prayer night. It was really diverse, including white people who want to see change, as well. It’s beautiful to see.
What’s next for you in terms of a recruiting timeline?
The next step is, I think there are two or three colleges that I haven’t gotten offers from yet, but the next step is setting up visits. You all are hearing this first, but I’m planning on taking all of my junior and senior year classes this coming year just in case I do reclass up so I’ll be ready. I’m definitely considering it now. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it’s definitely an option.
Do you have a timeline on a reclass decision? Will you announce that decision first before picking a college?
Probably around November or December, before the first semester ends.
I haven’t thought much yet about which will come first, but I feel like I’ll announce my reclass decision first before picking a college.
Has John Calipari mentioned a reclass to you? Or all of the coaches recruiting you?
Yeah, I told most of the college coaches that I’m definitely considering reclassing up.
I feel like it just depends on my summer development. Coach Jamal [Richardson] and Coach Mark Edwards, who I’ve been with working with this week, I feel like they’re going to take my game to an even higher level than I’ve been at. I feel like I’m going to be ten times better than I am right now by the time the season comes. So yeah, it just depends on how I feel going into the season, how my game goes, stuff like that.
Is your physicality and how you stack up with other 2021 recruits something you’ll be looking at with your reclass decision?
I feel like my body is getting to the point where it’s built enough, I’m physical enough to play at that level.
If there is an AAU season, who are you going to be running with?
I’m still picking between teams right now.
What happens if you can’t take visits to schools in the coming months? Do you push your announcement back or do you feel like you know enough about the schools recruiting you to decide?
I would definitely try to set up virtual visits. I would definitely do more Zoom calls with coaches and stuff. It may set it back, but it may not, as well. It depends on if I get enough info about the college and I get a better feel for the coaches and the fans and stuff like that.
What does a virtual visit consist of?
I’ve kind of taken one with Wake Forest. It wasn’t a Zoom call or anything, but they sent me a Google Maps thing of the entire campus and the basketball facilities, stuff like that. You would just tap on a certain room and it would show a picture of that entire room. I believe with virtual visits, a coach will call you on FaceTime or with Zoom call, and then they take you around campus and explain everything.
Switching over to fan questions, if you had to choose one other recruit to play with at the next level, who would it be?
There’s a few. I’d definitely want to play with Emoni [Bates]. Jaden Bradley is someone I’ve known forever, he’s definitely someone I’d want to play with. We’d play well together. Jalen Duren is another one, we’d definitely go well on the court together.
How many players do you talk to in your grade about going to college together?
I haven’t really talked to anyone. I’ve talked to Brandon Miller, that’s probably about the only one that I’ve talked to about teaming up and stuff. Oh, and Tre White, that’s another one. Tre White moved to California a few months ago, and then during quarantine we had a gym, so we worked out every single day. We started talking about that
What are your priorities for picking a college and who are some players you model your game after?
Definitely the fan base, that’s one of them. How they react and how they show love and stuff. How they make me feel welcome, that’s definitely one of the biggest things. How the coach coaches, how it fits my game, whether they’ll help me get to the next level. The atmosphere, the way they do things, stuff like that. I want to go to a school that helps me achieve my dreams.
Kyrie [Irving] is one of them, Ryan Harrow is another, who was a former Kentucky player for a little bit. Steve Nash is another person who I love to watch. I try to watch a lot of people and see what they do best, try to add that to my game.
If you could have a magic wand and steal any NBA player’s trait, what would it be?
Either LeBron [James’] athleticism or Steph Curry’s range, even Dame [Lillard’s] range. One of those three.
Would you rather lose early in the NCAA Tournament and be guaranteed a lottery pick or win a title and be guaranteed a non-lottery pick?
That’s a tough one. I want to be a lottery pick, that’s a dream of mine. But winning a championship would also be a huge thing. That’s a tough one, I’ll have to get back to you on that.
What number will you be wearing at the college level?
55. That’s gonna be my number for the rest of time. It’s just different. Ryan Harrow wore 55, and that’s a player I look up to. Jason Williams wore 55, he’s another player I look up to. You just don’t see a lot of people wearing larger numbers like that, especially point guards. I just feel like it’s different.
If you could pick any UK-Calipari team to play on in the past, who would you choose?
Probably the year with Anthony Davis. AD and Terrence Jones, those guys, yeah. I know Terrence really well, we used to work out together. Definitely that year.