Although he only played in a Gonzaga uniform for one season, Clarke made a huge impact on both ends of the court. He was arguably the best player in college basketball this season not named Zion Williamson.
Clarke averaged 16.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game. His athleticism and elite defending made him a regular occurrence on the highlight reel. He led the NCAA in both offensive rating and defensive rating, the first time that has happened since Anthony Davis in 2012.
He finished with as many missed field goals (117) as he did blocks. He obliterated Gonzaga’s single-season block record. Austin Daye now comes in second with a mere 70. In one season, he climbed to sixth all-time, well below Casey Calvary’s 207 blocks, but accomplished in much less time.
The Grizzlies are getting one of the most NBA ready forwards at the defensive level in the draft. Clarke has his offensive limitations, relative to the expectation of forwards in the current iteration of NBA styles, but his athleticism and innate ability around the hoop should guarantee him quality minutes going forward. Paired up with new No. 2 pick Ja Morant and it’ll be time to see a lot of ESPN Sportscenter Top 10 plays.
Players move up and players slide down the board each year, and Clarke is the perfect example. Although we might be a bit biased here at TSSF, Clarke was one of the best players in college basketball this season, and is the top defender in the draft. He most likely should have been a lottery pick, but sometimes, that is how the cookie crumbles.
Clarke is the second Bulldog of the evening to have his name called. The Washington Wizards picked Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 pick.