The Gonzaga Bulldogs have never rostered a shot blocker with the caliber of Brandon Clarke. Through six games, Clarke is averaging four blocks per game and is on pace to completely destroy the Gonzaga single season block record.
Austin Daye owns the record, with 70 blocks during the 2008-09 season. Zach Collins came close in the 2016-17 season, swatting away 69 shots. Casey Calvary owns the career record, with 207.
After destroying six shots against Duke last night, Clarke is sitting on 24 blocked shots, roughly one-third of the way to Daye’s record. However, the Zags have only played six games. Assuming the Zags play around 35 games this season, Clarke is around one-sixth of the way through the season. At his current place, assuming the Zags play 35, games, Clarke will block 140 shots—almost double Daye’s record.
Clarke’s athleticism knows no bounds, and he shows crafty knowledge down low. His positioning on this Zion Williamson shot last night was perfect.
That is the reason why Clarke is not only the best shot blocker in the WCC, but the best in the NCAA. He has three more blocks than Brandon Gilbreck from Western Illinois, the second-best in the nation.
We gave our special shoutout to Jeremy Jones earlier this week, and the national media is publishing piece after piece in praise of Rui Hachimura. But considering the situation down low, Clarke is having a fantastic start of the season.
Clarke was always going to be the lunchpail, more traditional post player. Killian Tillie was the stretch forward. With the absence of Tillie, Clarke has stepped back in two consecutive games, draining wide open threes. Otherwise, he patrols down low. 82.1 percent of his shot attempts come at the rim.
On a team of great players, he is averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. But his most specific, and needed, aspects of Clarke’s athleticism is on the defensive end. Hachimura is good at defense, but he is not the best. Filip Petrusev is still learning the ropes of the college game. Clarke was going to be heavily leaned upon this year, and he has more than answered. He alters shots in the post exactly like Przemek Karnowski did, only in a more stealthily manner. Where as the looming body of Karnowski was always there, it is the lurking shadow of Clarke striking fear.
Winning the Maui Invitational required a complete and total buy-in from all the players and coaches on the squad. By large, Gonzaga more than answered that call. However, of all the important player contributions throughout the tournament, Clarke stands out, in terms of impact, and how exciting it will be to watch him the rest of the year.