Other than Blake Griffin, Earl Clark has the talent and tools to be as big a star as anyone in the 2009 NBA draft. But does he have the fire to reach his potential? One of our experts doesn't think so. Will he turn out to be the biggest bust among the NBA lottery picks? That's the subject of our...[details]
HEADER EARL CLARK Small/Power Forward University of Louisville Cardinals #5 6:08.5-232 Plainfield, New Jersey Rahway High School
OVERVIEW Clark is a versatile athlete who has experience at shooting guard, power forward and small forward, providing the team with a consistent scoring threat, as he produced double-digit point performances in 38 of his last 42 games (total of 61 for his career). He registered 27 career double-doubles in 104 games at the university, including eight in his final 15 contests.
With his improved ball handling skills, Clark showed that he is much more than just a scoring option. In his final year with the Cardinals, he not only became the 60th player in school annals to score 1,000 points in a career (ranks 48th with 1,004 points), he ranked second on the team in assists (3.2 apg) and blocked shots (50) in 2008-09. He also led the team and ranked sixth in the Big East Conference in rebounds (8.7 rpg).
A four-year starter at Rahway High School, Clark was named the Newark Star-Ledger Senior of the Year in New Jersey and an All-State selection, as he averaged 25.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and five assists. He led the team to a 22-8 record and the school's first sectional championship in 10 years and its first Mountain Valley Conference title.
Clark was ranked as the top recruit in the New Jersey and the New York City metro area by RivalsHoops, as well as being rated the 15th-best overall prospect in the nation. He was ranked 11th in the country by USA Today recruiting analyst Rob Harrington, 21st by Scout.com, 22nd by Van Coleman, 27th by Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports and 31st by The Hoop Scoop.
The combo guard/forward scored 1,245 career points, leading his team to a 40-13 record in his two seasons. He also averaged 18.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 blocked shots as a junior in helping the squad to an 18-5 record and the state sectional finals.
Clark spurned a scholarship offer from Villanova to enroll at Louisville, becoming the 17th McDonald's All-America selection to sign with the Cardinals. He also earned All-American honors by Parade Magazine (fourth team) and EA Sports (second team) as a senior prepster.
Playing for the Cardinals as a true freshman, Clark appeared in 32 games, starting the final four contests at the two-guard position. He averaged 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 48.0 percent from the field while averaging 16 minutes per game in 2006-07.
Clark moved into the starting lineup for 22 of 35 games as a sophomore, earning NCAA East Region All-Tournament honors in 2007-08. He poured in 390 points (11.1 ppg), as he blocked 59 shots and averaged 8.1 boards per game. He scored in double digits 21 times and produced 10 double-doubles, but was also suspended for undisclosed reasons, missing the January matchup vs. Kentucky.
Clark received All-Big East Conference third-team honors in 2008-09. He led the team in scoring (14.2 ppg) and field goals made (202). He paced the Cardinals in rebounds (8.7 rpg), blocked 51 shots and handed out a career-high 119 assists, but also matched that total in turnovers, starting 36 of 37 contests at small forward.
2008-09 SEASON All-Big East Conference third-team choice...Member of the Billy Minardi Classic All-Tournament team...MVP of the Marques Maybin Classic after averaging 13.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and five assists in the three games of the event, posting double-doubles twice...Honored on the Big East Honor Roll on three occasions (12/22, 1/12 and 3/02)...Started 36 of 37 games at small forward, leading the team in scoring with 525 points (14.2 ppg) and field goals made (202 of 442, 45.7 percent), including making 31 of 95 three-point attempts (32.6 percent)...Shot 64.7 percent from the foul line (90 of 139)...Led the team and ranked sixth in the conference with 322 rebounds (8.7 rpg, including 220 defensive)...Collected 119 assists (3.2 apg), but also had 119 turnovers, fouling out once while registering 71 personal fouls...Blocked 51 shots and had 38 steals...Scored in double digits 33 times and had 17 double-double performances...In the Cardinals' three games in the Big East Conference Championship, he averaged 18 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists while connecting on 54.1 percent of his shots, earning All-Tournament honors.
2007-08 SEASON Earned NCAA East Region All-Tournament honors...Started 22 of 35 games, missing the Kentucky contest in January due to a violation of team rules...Scored 390 points (11.1 ppg), as he made 146 of 307 field goals (47.6 percent) that included 15 of 66 three-pointers (22.7 percent) and 83 of 127 free throws (65.4 percent)...Led the team with an average of 8.1 rebounds per game (285 total, including 208 defensive), ranking seventh in the Big East Conference in that category...Dished out 48 assists, as he blocked 59 shots (fourth in the Big East) and had 34 steals...Fouled out once and had 80 turnovers to go with 62 personal fouls... Scored in double digits 21 times and registered 10 double-double performances.
2006-07 SEASON Moved into the starting lineup for the last four games after great improvement over the last half of the season...Averaged 8.1 points and 5.2 rebounds over the last 16 games, as he finished the year with 189 points (5.9 ppg), 121 rebounds (3.8 rpg), 12 assists, 14 blocked shots and 21 steals while averaging 16 minutes per game (played in a total of 32 contests).
OFF-FIELD ISSUES 2007-08 Season: Louisville played vs. Kentucky (1/05/08) without Clark, who missed the game for unspecified reasons. Team spokesman Kenny Klein said Clark's absence was not injury-related. Clark wore an all-red jumpsuit and sat at the end of the bench during the game. Coach Rick Pitino would not disclose the reason, but did confirm it was a one-game suspension. "We've got a lot of guys that have mood swings, and that's why I think we're not reaching our potential right now," Pitino said. "I don't think it has anything to do with basketball, I think it has to do with psychology. That's the unfortunate thing."
CAREER NOTES Clark started 63 of 104 games at Louisville, logging 2,779 minutes (26.7 mpg), as he became the 60th player in school history to score more than 1,000 points in a career, ranking 48th on the all-time record list with 1,104 ...Became the 14th player in Cardinals history to lead the team in rebounds in consecutive seasons (8.1 rpg in 2007-08, 8.7 rpg in 2008-09)...Ranks 10th in school history with 124 blocked shots...In NCAA Tournament games over the last two years, he averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and has shot 56.8 percent from the field (50 of 88).
HIGH SCHOOL Attended Rahway (N.J.) High School, earning McDonald's All-American honors, in addition to receiving national recognition from Parade Magazine (fourth team) and EA Sports (second team) as a senior...Named the Newark Star-Ledger Senior of the Year in New Jersey and an All-State selection, as he averaged 25.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and five assists...Led the team to a 22-8 record and the school's first sectional championship in 10 years and their first-ever Mountain Valley Conference title...Ranked as the top recruit in the New Jersey and the New York City metro area by RivalsHoops, as well as being rated the 15th-best overall prospect in the nation...Ranked 11th in the country by USA Today recruiting analyst Rob Harrington, 21st by Scout.com, 22nd by Van Coleman, 27th by Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports and 31st by The Hoop Scoop...Scored 1,245 career points, leading his team to a 40-13 record in his two seasons...Averaged 18.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 blocked shots as a junior in helping the squad to an 18-5 record and the state sectional finals.
INJURY REPORT No injuries reported.
PERSONAL Communications major...Son of Brenda and Larry Clark...Born 1/17/88...Resides in Plain-field, New Jersey.
SCOUTING REPORT Positives: Uses his athleticism to create mismatches, as he is too quick for most power forwards to cover and too strong for small forwards to slash by him on the way to the rim...Good facilitator, especially from the high post, evident by his increased involvement as a ball handler (averaged 3.2 assists per game as a junior, compared to 1.4 the previous season)...Not really comfortable as a power forward, as he is better served at small forward or shooting guard (gets better production sinking his jumper from mid-range or the perimeter, rather than driving inside to the rim)...His size and quickness, along with his length allow him to excel in the full-court press...Explosive leaper who has developed crisp passing skills and is unselfish with the ball, always looking for an open teammate before taking the shot himself...Has the speed to take the ball off the defensive board, put in on the floor and take it down the court, displaying good vision to feed the ball on outlet passes...Defensive minded forward who uses his wingspan and leaping ability to get a fair share of rebounds, especially from the defensive boards...Also uses his length well to stay in front of perimeter shooters, using his elevation and timing to go up and contest shots regularly...Has the hip snap to handle the switch on pick-and-rolls and the lateral quickness to defend multiple positions...Shows the body control and explosive first step, along with solid ball handling skills with either hand to create mismatches working inside (inconsistent, though, as he likes to shoot from the outside)...Has the speed to take his man off the dribble, whether going to his weak side or his right...From the perimeter, he demonstrates a high and quick release, setting his feet well to elevate with his jump shot...Better ball handler than most small forwards that entered the 2009 draft...Has a solid dribble/drive game and those long limbs to generate a quick stride on the way to the rim...Stays in control executing misdirection steps and shows good hesitation moves and stop-and-go action to get the defender to over-commit before fading back to deliver on a swift jumper...Has the quick ball reaction agility, along with the lateral moves and reach to disrupt the opponent in the passing lane...Increased his strength and bulk prior to his junior year (added more than 10 pounds) and showed marked improvement crashing the boards, using his long arms effectively to haul in the rebound.
Negatives: Prefers to utilize his outside shooting skills rather than consistently drive to the basket, but has not had great success connecting from the perimeter (29.8 percent three-point shooter)...Needs to develop a stronger low post game...Good hustler but will get soft and back down when challenged in the paint...Has the body of a power forward, but lacks aggression...Better as a small forward, but prefers to play the two-guard spot despite lacking a great scorer's mentality...Decent ball handler, but must play with better alertness in the lanes and gets a bit sloppy with his dribble, which has led to high turnover issues...Lacks focus and needs to play with a more consistent effort...Lacks back-to-the-basket skills and struggles in catch-and-shoot situations (can't shoot off the dribble)...Prefers to settle for a jumper rather than draw contact by attacking the rim (too reliant on his jumper)...Turnover prone, as 18.7 percent of his possessions last year ended up in the opponent's hands...Streaky shooter whose field goal percentage continues to regress (48 percent shooter as a freshman, 47.6 as a sophomore and 45.7 as a junior)...Needs to refine his fade-away jumper, as he shoots off his back heel too often...Struggles to finish going through contact...Must develop better courage working inside, as he shuns contact and it is rare to see him dunk the ball despite good leaping ability.
Compares To: DANNY GRANGER, Indiana -- If the light goes on upstairs, Clark has the athleticism and quickness to be a very effective three-forward, but he lacks confidence (and courage) with his inside game and is too inconsistent as a perimeter shooter to park himself on the outside as much as he does. He shows good man defense responsibilities and will crash the boards for the rebound or step out to contest shots. So why is he so reluctant to drive to the rim, especially when he lacks back-to-the-basket skills?