In the eyes of the common college basketball fan during the regular season, Brandon Clarke was not on too many people’s radar. Even the casual Gonzaga fan just knew him as that transfer from San Jose State before the season started. The staff of TSSF knew differently.
The 6’8” Canadian had arguably one of the best seasons any Gonzaga big man has ever put together. His astonishing season averages of 16.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG (team leader), 3.2 BPG (5th in the nation), 1.2 SPG, and 68.7 FG% (best in the nation) just jump right off the page. Not to mention the fact that he shattered the Gonzaga single-season block record with seven regular season games left to go. He ended up with a mind-boggling 117 blocks in 37 games which also broke the WCC single-season record. The craziest part about this season is that Brandon is lucky he was able to be a starter. If Tillie hadn’t hurt his foot before the first game, Clarke was going to be the first one off the bench.
Clarke racked up the awards this season because of his eye-popping stats. He was named the WCC Defender of the Year, the WCC Newcomer of the Year, and a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist. Additionally, Clarke was listed on the AP All-American Third Team. A lot of hardware is going up in the trophy case at the Clarke household.
As for the professional future for the Gonzaga star, it seems like Clarke will be going to the NBA Draft with the signing of an agent. Lucky for you, I may have an inside scoop on where he will end up. I went to the USF-Gonzaga game in San Francisco all the way back in January with my family. My uncle just happened to be sitting next to a Miami Heat scout and he said that he was extremely interested in both Clarke and Rui. It looks the Heat will end up having a lottery pick, probably around #11 to #14 since Miami was recently eliminated from playoff contention. If Clarke or Rui do end up going to South Beach, make sure to give me (or my uncle) all the credit on where you heard it first. If Clarke doesn’t end up with the Heat, I expect him to go somewhere between #11 to #20 in the first round. Clarke has really grabbed the attention of NBA teams due to his successful redshirt junior campaign.
When NBA scouts look at Clarke, they see a strong-framed athlete that can run the floor, catch lobs, and finish plays in transition. He is extremely lethal off the pick and roll as well. Brandon can score on you with his little baby hook or he can use his strength down-low. He is aggressive on both sides of the floor but it really shows on the defensive-end. A legit “one-of-a-kind” rim protecter and shot blocker.
I would like to give Clarke one piece of advice. The spin-move to the rim can only work so many times. It was his go-to move in college but the players on the next level will soon catch on. A new move needs to be added to his arsenal.
At the next level, Clarke will need to continue to improve upon his mid-range game. Once he has stepped up to a new level with that, the three-point shot needs to be apart of his game if he wants to compete with the big boys in The Association. He obviously has the skills around the basket to be competitive in the NBA but that can only get you so far if you can’t stretch the floor.
Another issue with Clarke is that he is undersized for his position and plays more of a center trapped in a power forward’s body. The free throw shooting is also something that was a problem throughout the 2018-2019 season with Gonzaga but can be fixed with more practice. Every player has their problems or improvements that need to be made but I believe Clarke is the type of player that will work relentlessly to find a solution.
Regardless of what happens in his professional career, Brandon Clarke will go down in the Gonzaga history books as a straight-up legend. He is the greatest shot blocker ever to wear the Bulldog uniform.
*Arden Cravalho is a senior at Gonzaga University... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho