This afternoon, 2021 top-three guard Terrence Clarke announced his commitment to Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over Duke, Memphis, Boston College, UCLA, and Texas Tech, among numerous other offers.
And in even bigger news, Clarke also announced on Saturday afternoon that he would be officially reclassifying to the class of 2020, suiting up for John Calipari next fall.
Clarke, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound shooting guard out of Boston, MA, is considered the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect according to Rivals.com, behind only five-star forward Jonathan Kuminga (2021). 247Sports also lists him at No. 4 in their updated 2020 rankings, while ESPN has him ranked No. 4 overall.
But what do we need to know about Clarke? And most importantly, what does his commitment mean for Kentucky?
Who is Terrence Clarke?
A freak athlete with a plus-four 6-foot-11 wingspan, Clarke is considered one of the best pure scorers in all of high school basketball. During the Nike EYBL regular season this late spring and early summer, the Boston, MA native averaged 17 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest, also knocking down 34% of shots beyond the arc. Clarke also averaged 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 steals in five games at the 2019 Nike Peach Jam Finale.
Drawing comparisons to the likes of Tracy McGrady and DeMar DeRozan, Clarke is a capable shooter from deep, a crafty mid-range scorer, and a strong and athletic finisher at and around the rim, making him a truly dangerous scoring threat at all three levels of the floor. With impressive size and length, the 6-foot-7 prospect also projects as an elite two-way player at the college level and in the NBA.
247Sports Director of Scouting Jerry Meyer recently listed Clarke as the No. 5 shooting guard he has ever scouted, also comparing him to former Kentucky target and Kansas Jayhawks star Josh Jackson.
“I love his feel for the game and he has kind of a spark or a pop to him. He has an aggressiveness and the skills to make use of it,” Meyer said. “He’ll impose his will on a game and is just an all-around multi-faceted player. Can be a primary ball handler, can play 3-4 positions. He can get his shot whenever he wants, can create for others and has instincts defensively.”
Growing to six-feet tall by the time he was in seventh grade and shooting up to 6-foot-5 going into high school, Clarke has been seen as a serious high-major, top-ten prospect dating back to 2016. In fact, the newest Wildcat’s very first highlight reel was released at the conclusion of the 2016 Basketball Spotlight Tip-Off Classic when he was just 15 years old.
Even back then, it was apparent Clarke would develop into a superstar at the high school level and beyond.
Clarke took his first recruiting visit to Indiana in October of 2017, and followed it up by receiving scholarship offers from Syracuse, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Indiana, Rutgers, Iowa, Saint Louis, and NC State in the summer of 2018 alone.
After taking one more unofficial to Indiana in September, Clarke took his very first unofficial to Lexington on October 12, 2018, followed by a personal visit from John Calipari in December and Tony Barbee in April of 2019. Kentucky officially extended a scholarship offer on May 7, 2019.
From there, Clarke received offers from Georgia, LSU, Nebraska, Baylor, Pittsburgh, Illinois, St. John’s, Auburn, UCLA, and Vanderbilt this past summer.
On August 30, the five-star guard announced a final six of Kentucky, Boston College, Duke, Memphis, Texas Tech, and UCLA.
Once the fall recruiting period opened this past Monday, Kentucky was the first school to visit him at Brewster Academy, followed by Boston College later in the day. Penny Hardaway was also scheduled to visit the elite scoring guard later in the week, but ultimately cancelled his visit when it became apparent Memphis would not be the choice.
Clarke made it official this afternoon by announcing his commitment to the University of Kentucky.
The streak is over
Kentucky fans can finally breathe a deep sigh of relief knowing John Calipari’s streak of missing out on top-five talent is officially over.
In four consecutive recruiting classes, Kentucky failed to secure a commitment from a top-five talent, with the last one coming back in 2015 when Skal Labissiere – No. 1 overall in Rivals’ rankings – became a Wildcat. UK has come close, most notably from De’Aaron Fox (No. 6 overall in 2016) and several other top-ten prospects in Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, EJ Montgomery, Tyrese Maxey, and BJ Boston, but unfortunately, none have been able to break that top-five barrier.
Insert Clarke, who is ranked as high as No. 2 (Rivals) and as low as No. 4 overall (247Sports, ESPN).
While his recruitment hasn’t been as publicized and built with suspense due to the overwhelming Kentucky buzz over the last three weeks, the 6-foot-7 guard is considered an instant-impact superstar player at the college level with No. 1 overall draft potential, as well.
The commitment was the easy part. The next step was determining whether or not Clarke would be able to officially reclassify to the class of 2020.
And this afternoon, the 6-foot-7 star announced the move was possible and that he would officially be a member of the class of 2020 moving forward.
When he announced his commitment date a few weeks back, Clarke confirmed the widespread rumors that he would strongly consider a reclassification, saying on Twitter at the time that it would come down to his academics when spring rolls around.
“I am a member of the class of ’21,” he said. “I will explore the possibility of reclassifying in the spring after taking the SAT and ACT and evaluating my academic performance during the upcoming school year. Stay tuned.”
Back at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottsville, VA in June, Clarke told KSR that he was strongly considering the jump, though a source close to Brewster Academy quickly reached out afterward to say a reclassification would be extremely difficult for the five-star guard and the school expected him to stay in the class of 2021. As of three weeks ago, those close to the program remained relatively pessimistic that the possibility of a jump was on the table, but did acknowledge that Clarke was actively pursuing this avenue.
Since then, though, sources told KSR that Clarke believed he had found an avenue that would make a reclassification possible and planned on moving forward with the process as if he will be on Kentucky’s campus next fall.
Now, Clarke joins top-ten guard BJ Boston, along with four-star forwards Cam’Ron Fletcher and Lance Ware, in Kentucky’s class of 2020.
What does this mean for Kentucky’s other guard targets?
With Clarke making the move to 2020, what will Kentucky do with elite guard targets Jalen Green and Josh Christopher moving forward?
Green’s father, Marcus Green, told KSR on Thursday evening that even with Clarke’s commitment to Kentucky, his side would still be interested in the Wildcats and planned on moving forward with their official visit to the school on October 16-19, though it would definitely be a bit more complicated moving forward.
Green’s father acknowledged that UK’s contact had dropped off significantly since it became apparent that Clarke would be committing to Kentucky and reclassifying to 2020, with the coaching staff not visiting the five-star guard out in California when they were out West this week visiting the likes of Boston, 2021 five-star forward Paolo Banchero, and 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew.
As for Josh Christopher, his two upcoming visits (unofficial from October 11-13, official when Kentucky hosts Georgia during the regular season) to Lexington are still scheduled, for now. That being said, Arizona State is still looming as a major threat, with UCLA also growing as a darkhorse.
The Kentucky coaching staff paid a visit to 2020 No. 2 prospect Cade Cunningham immediately after the fall recruiting period opened last week, with rumblings growing louder that he is no longer a lock to Oklahoma State and is considering signing elsewhere. North Carolina is seen as the new favorite, though Cunningham has long been John Calipari’s favorite guard in the senior class. If that door cracks even slightly, expect the UK coaching staff to prioritize the 6-foot-6 combo guard moving forward.
The buzz is also growing stronger that Askew, the No. 1 point guard prospect in the class of 2021, could also reclassify to 2020 and potentially decide between Kentucky and Louisville. If things fall through with all three of Cunningham, Green, and Christopher, I’d expect Kentucky to push for a reclassification from Askew.
Nonetheless, the Wildcats have locked up one of the top prospects in all of high school basketball, and moving forward, they have the opportunity to be quite selective with who they prioritize and how they recruit. With Clarke and Boston, Kentucky now has two of the top scoring guards in the nation, and they likely need just one more guard piece to round out their backcourt in the 2020 class.
Welcome home, Mr. Clarke.