John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff are putting the final touches on the program’s recruiting class for 2020, but that’s not stopping them from laying the foundation for 2021 and beyond.
In fact, Kentucky is set to host 2022 five-star guard and major UK target Skyy Clark on an unofficial visit on February 29, with the coaching staff making the 6-foot-2 guard out of Los Angeles, CA an early priority in the sophomore class. UK assistant coach Joel Justus has taken over as the lead recruiter, with the program making him a focal point of their recruiting efforts among guards in the 2022 class.
In fact, as it stands now, it’s looking like Clark will be the coaching staff’s top point guard option in 2022.
Though an offer hasn’t been extended quite yet – Kentucky rarely offers sophomores during the high school basketball season – one is expected in the very near future, with the Wildcats likely joining the likes of Kansas, Memphis, Arizona, Michigan, UCLA, Georgetown, DePaul, Vanderbilt, and Florida State to offer the nation’s No. 1 combo guard and top-20 overall prospect in the 2022 247Sports Composite Rankings.
And if/when that offer is extended, Kentucky is considered one of the very early favorites to land the dynamic scoring guard out of California.
This week, the five-star guard jumped on the Sources Say Podcast for an exclusive interview, where he broke down his serious interest in the Kentucky program, the possibility he reclassifies to the class of 2021, and a major package deal he has in the works for the school of his choosing, among other topics.
Check out the interview in its entirety below.
For those that follow high school basketball closely know who you are and what you bring to the table, but what about those that don’t? For those that aren’t as familiar, who is Skyy Clark both on and off the floor?
As a player and as a person, just know I’m always giving my all. I’m a very loyal person, I love having fun, and I’m a very goofy kid. I’m a God-fearing man. On the court, I always play my hardest, always try to get my teammates involved, and I love winning.
What is something not many people know about you? What do you like to do off the basketball floor that might come as a surprise to fans?
I love learning a lot of things. I’m learning how to play guitar, learning how to play the piano. I’m a very goofy kid. I ride my bike around my neighborhood a lot, I once rode my bike 11 miles away from the house and got lost. I’m an explorer and I love learning new things.
As a player, what do you think separates your game from the rest of the players in your class? And what do you think of your nickname, “Skyyrie” after Kyrie Irving?
I love the nickname. A lot of people say I play like him, and he’s one of the best point guards, if not the best point guard in the league, so having that nickname is a huge thing. But what separates me is, if you look at the top 30 kids in our class, all of the kids can shoot, all of them can handle. We all have a lot of skill, but I think what separates me is my hard work. I work out every day, give it my all. On the court, I play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion. And I love playing defense. I just love winning. With everything combined, I just bring a different vibe to the court.
As a native of Los Angeles, what was the Kobe Bryant tragedy like for you and your community?
I still don’t believe it. I forget about sometimes because I still can’t believe that he’s dead. It’s a heartbreaking thing that affected the whole city. It’s still affecting the whole city. For the first few days after it happened, everybody’s mood was down, it didn’t matter where you went. Everybody was talking about it. The beautiful thing about it is that it’s bringing everyone together. That’s the thing about Los Angeles, once someone they rock with dies, the whole city comes together. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
What did you learn from Kobe Bryant as a player growing up in Los Angeles? Did his mindset or style of play impact your own personal growth as a player?
Kobe is one of the biggest reasons why I started playing basketball. It wasn’t until my summer going into ninth grade where I really understood what “Mamba Mentality” really meant, and that’s when I started getting in the gym a lot more, working my hardest, and going 110% on the court. He’s one of the biggest reasons why. God is the biggest reason, and my family, but without learning his work ethic, I don’t think I’d be where I am without Kobe.
When did you first realize that you were going to be a high-major player at the college level? Did you have an on-court moment where you kind of realized you could play at the next level and potentially in the NBA?
It really wasn’t until the beginning of this year, my sophomore year. I really lacked a lot of confidence in my game. When I started playing in fifth grade, I started out as a center, and then over the years I developed into a point guard. I didn’t really have much confidence in my game, I was really only doing it because people were telling me I was good. But something clicked this year, and my confidence went up. It was definitely this year [that I realized I could be special].
You’ve said that faith has been a huge aspect of your life and a key in your basketball journey. What has that been like and how have you been able to fuel you?
God is the reason for everything, good or bad. There’s always good in the bad. I just trust Him with my career, I trust Him with everything. I trust that He will protect me. He has given me these abilities to do what I can do on the court. I play for Him and live my life through Him.
Your younger brother recently picked up an offer from Vanderbilt, his second D-1 offer. What is that like to have someone follow in your footsteps the way he has? I’m sure he sees you as a role model in his own basketball journey…
It was an amazing feeling, it was his second D-1 offer. DePaul was his first, which was my first, as well. To have Vanderbilt offer him as an eighth grader, that’s huge for him. My first offer came in eighth grade from DePaul, his came in eighth grade too. Him getting an offer from Vandy was a huge thing for me. I see it, he’s got handles, a jump shot, toughness. He’s just now learning to play tough defense, so I’m excited about that. His hard work is paying off, and we’re happy to see it.
I know it’s early, but where does your recruitment stand right now as a whole? Are you starting to get an idea of some of the early favorites, coaches that stand out, that kind of thing?
Really, the biggest ones are Kentucky, Florida State, and, well, pretty much all the schools that have offered me. Kentucky and Gonzaga, as well.
It seems like Kentucky’s interest has grown, pretty quickly in terms of coach visits and scheduling this upcoming unofficial you’re set to take on Feb. 29. What is your interest in that program right now?
They are definitely, definitely in my top five. As you all know, Coach Calipari is an amazing coach. Everything about Kentucky is on a new level. They try to get you to the league, which is my ultimate goal. They’re going to push you to not only be a player in the league, but one of the top players in the league. That’s something I’m definitely looking for when I go to college.
What are you hoping to get out of your visit to Lexington?
Just more insight on the campus, the coaching staff, and the culture there. Just to see how I fit into their system and stuff.
Kentucky is just now exploring the class of 2022 and finding their top targets early on. What does it mean to you that you have seemingly taken over as one of their favorite guards in your class?
It means everything to me. Kentucky has always been one of my top college choices, ever since I started playing basketball. It’s just very humbling. Knowing that I’m on their radar only pushes me to work harder.
What other schools do you feel have prioritized you early?
Gonzaga is definitely up there. Florida State is also another one. Memphis, Vanderbilt, Arizona, and DePaul. Georgetown is another school, also.
When it comes time for a decision, what do you think will be the most important factors for you?
Probably the biggest factor is, really, just a school that is going to help me achieve my dreams and gets me ready for the pros. I want to go to a place that pushes me academically, helps me become a better person, become a better teammate, a better point guard. I just want to grow all around.
Kind of the biggest thing with high school stars nowadays is the reclassification option and moving up a year. Is that something you’re interested in exploring when the time comes?
It’s definitely an option. We haven’t talked as much about it yet, we’re just enjoying the process as it goes. You’ve only got one high school career, and when it’s gone, you can’t get it back, so we’re taking everything slow.
How are you guys weighing the pros and cons of a reclassification?
A pro would be that if you’re ready for it, I mean, go ahead and do it. Some of the cons are that I’ve never been held back a year or reclassified back or anything, so I would be losing a year of growth as a person, as a student, as an athlete, and developing as a point guard. A lot of dudes who reclassify up don’t really pan out well because that year of growth is really important.
For fans learning about your game, what would you say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a player?
I would say my strengths are just making my teammates better and my ability to get my team involved. I’m listed as a combo guard, but I think I’m more of a point guard. Just know that I’m going to give it my all on every single play, every single game the entire season. I’m trying to win a championship wherever I’m going.
My IQ, I’m trying to get my basketball IQ better as a point guard. With my jump shot, I’m trying to get more consistent with that. My jump shot percentage from last year to this year has jumped up a whole lot, I think I’m shooting 85 or 86% from the free throw line and like 38% from the three-point line. It’s a lot higher than last year. And just getting my body ready for the next level.
Have you talked to any other players about teaming up in college?
Yeah, I can’t mention who, but we’ve got some things in the works. If it happens, then it’s going to be scary. This for sure can happen, and if it does, it’ll be real scary.
It’s a few 2022 kids actually.
To listen to the entire interview, along with the rest of this week’s edition of the Sources Say Podcast on the official Kentucky Sports Radio podcast network, check it out below:
To get the Sources Say Podcast sent directly to your phone weekly on Apple Podcasts and iTunes, you can subscribe to the show right here. Not an Apple user? You can also find us on Spotify here, or many of the other podcast outlets and networks here.
While you wait for next week’s episode, check out some of Clark’s most recent highlights: