John Calipari and the UK coaching staff is focused on reeling in some of the elite prospects in the class of 2020, but there are two rising juniors that have been so impressive that they’ve already earned scholarship offers from Kentucky.
Those individuals? Consensus top-three prospects in the class of 2021 Jonathan Kuminga and Terrence Clarke.
While the former wasn’t able to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA this weekend, KSR was able to catch up with the latter at the prestigious event about his recruitment and what he thinks of Kentucky’s early offer.
Clarke, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard out of Boston, MA, has received nine offers over the last week to add to his list of 26 overall. The No. 3 prospect in the nation says he has no idea where the recent spike in interest came from, but he’s certainly appreciative of it all.
“I got a couple [new offers] this week, yeah,” he said. “To be honest, I have no clue [where it came from]. I’ve been hearing of a lot of offers coming in, coaches wanting to talk to me. But I always like hearing of new offers and interest.”
During the Nike EYBL regular season this year, the Brewster Academy guard averaged 17.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Playing against the best rising seniors in the nation, Clarke proved to be not only one of the best players in his class, but all of high school basketball.
As a result, the question being asked about Clarke isn’t necessarily where he’ll going to college quite, but when.
Like we’ve seen time and time again with elite prospects over the last several years, there are rumblings that Clarke is a serious reclassification candidate for 2020. And after seeing him this past weekend in Charlottesville, it’s obvious why, as there isn’t much doubt that he’ll be ready to play college basketball in a year from a physical standpoint. He could probably play this year, if we’re being totally honest.
When asked about the rumors, Clarke said it’s not something college coaches have been asking about quite yet, and he honestly hasn’t thought too much about the idea of it.
“Coaches haven’t really been talking to me about [reclassifying] and I haven’t focused on it much either,” he said. “It’s not really popping up that much yet.”
That being said, the 6-foot-7 five-star says the discussions are coming soon.
“I’ll probably explore it soon, most likely,” he said. “Just to see if I can, see if it’s a possibility that’s in my favor. If it’s not the situation that’s not good for me, I probably won’t do it, but I’ll definitely go over it with my coaches.”
After talking to a source very close to Clarke this weekend, while the 6-foot-7 star is confident he could thrive at the college level a year early physically, there are concerns that he would not be able to meet graduation and NCAA requirements from an academic standpoint in just three years. While other reclassification candidates in the past were held back a year when they were younger, Clarke is true to his class and age. To put it simply, while his grades are in great shape, it would be a tight squeeze to fit in two years of school work over the next year, even including potential summer classes.
Nonetheless, it’s noteworthy that he will at least attempt to explore the possibility.
Moving on to specific schools of interest, Kentucky, who offered back in May, has always been associated with Clarke as a possible destination. He’s visited the school, the UK coaching staff has already visited him personally on two separate occasions, and they go out of their way to watch him play on a regular basis.
When asked about his interest in the Wildcats, the elite wing said his interest with the blue blood program is serious and he will “definitely be staying in contact” with the coaching staff.
“I’ve talked to a lot of [guys at Kentucky] like Kenny Payne, I talked to Coach Cal before,” he said. “Just having them offering me, it’s fabulous. With them being a blue blood school, a ton of pros going there, I’m just honored, blessed, everything. I definitely talk to them here and there, and I’ll definitely be staying in contact with them.”
Clarke, who visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness back in October of 2018, said his recent trip was “crazy.”
“It was great. Kentucky’s Midnight Madness, it was just crazy,” he said. “Just the atmosphere, seeing those guys out there competing, even if it was just like an All-Star scrimmage, it was just a great experience.”
So what will it take to win out in the end for the five-star prospect? What is he looking for in a school?
Go figure, he hit a Calipari buzzword.
“Just seeing how I’d fit in that system,” he said. “Basically, since it’s a positionless game now, I just want to go out there and be able to show I can play any position. Show my versatility, my skill, be a playmaker. Just be the best player I can.”
In terms of what he brings to the table, Clarke says he love showing his versatility and playmaking ability.
“I think when I’m out on the floor, I’m a playmaker,” he said. “I can go out there and score, but I love to get other people involved. Everybody says I’m a wing, but I think I’m a guard because I can definitely help other people get open and stuff like that. Me driving into the lane, people come to me, I can kick it. I think I’m a good passer, I just like getting everybody else better.”
This past weekend at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, college coaches and NBA scouts filled the sidelines and stands to see the participants in action. For Clarke, it was an opportunity for him to show what he is capable of not only in the college ranks, but how he projects as a professional basketball player.
“First impression is the best impression,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and show them everything I’ve got. I wanted to show off my skill, highlight my playmaking ability, everything I can do on the court. That’s the main thing, I just wanted to show them what I can do [at the college level] and when I get to the league.”
So what’s next for Clarke in terms of his recruitment? Does he plan on cutting his list anytime soon?
“Right now, I’m just listening to all the offers I’m getting,” he said. “But I’m sure sooner or later I’m going to want to cut my list, but I don’t really know yet. I’m just really focused on getting better.”
While it’s to be determined when he’ll be playing college basketball, it’s evident that Kentucky will have a decent shot when it comes time for a decision.