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If you like springy, exciting athletes that bring you memories of Malik Monk, Terrence Clarke is your guy to watch this season

Kentucky’s likely 1-2 punch of Brandon Boston and Terrence Clarke could give the Cats a real blast from the past of De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in terms of explosive scorers and overall excitement.

SLAM Summer Classic 2019
Terrence Clarke has the potential to be one of the most electric players in college basketball this season with his explosive scoring and leaping ability. Sounds familiar, right?
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Terrence Clarke

  • Class: Freshman
  • Height: 6-7
  • Weight: 185
  • Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
  • High School: Brewster Academy (MA)
  • Recruit Rankings: No. 8 nationally, No. 2 shooting guard in 2020 via 247 Sports composite rankings

Terrence Clarke during his junior season at Brewster

37 games played, 34-3 overall record, 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, three assists per game with a 17/5.7/4.3 line on the always-popular Nike EYBL circuit this past year.

Immanuel Quickley departs, Terrence Clarke enters the fray

Similarly to Devin Askew (who we’ve already discussed here), freshman guard Terrence Clarke arrives in Lexington a year ahead of schedule after reclassifying to leave powerhouse Brewster Academy after his junior season. It doesn’t take long when watching Clarke in action to see why he’s stepping up to the college ranks.

Clarke, who already measures in about 6-foot-7 and a few pounds under 200, has arguably the highest ceiling on this 2020-21 Kentucky roster not just because he’s a flamethrower at times on the floor offensively, but because he’s got an excellent frame with a ton of length and he’s still growing. He’s basically Malik Monk, but five inches taller, so he looks more like Immanuel Quickley this past year. Think about that for a second and not get giddy.

(Also, Clarke played with Jamal Mashburn Jr., who chose to attend Minnesota this season. If I just made you feel giddy about Clarke, I probably just made you feel old with Mash’s son coming into the college game this season and I apologize for that.)

OK, I’m intrigued. But, what makes Clarke such a special talent?

Great question.

Well, here’s this for starters:

Hello, Terrence Clarke.

Clarke is an effortless athlete and I mean that in the best way possible. He’s got a long frame that only going to get stronger as he gets older and a quality jumper that’s improving and going to make him very, very tough to guard throughout this season.

Terrence Clarke is going to get some tough buckets when Kentucky needs them this season.

His shot goes from Monkish to Quickley-like when he’s set on the perimeter. It might just be the number he wore in high school, but the elevation with the lower body and the frame screams a blend of IQ and Monk.

Although Clarke’s offense is the standout part of his game as it is with most high-caliber prospects, I believe another massive reason John Calipari and the Kentucky staff had to get him in the recruiting process was his defensive potential. During this prep school tournament up in the northeast this past season, the commentary booth mentioned how a valuable part of Clarke’s game at the next level is his ability to guard multiple positions.

Clarke was usually the biggest kid on the floor for a small-ball lineup for Brewster, but he was guarding more than big men on the defensive end.

Don’t get me wrong, Clarke’s freakish athleticism is such a joy to watch when you put on the tape, but the thing that really stood out for me with his game? His passing ability and the potential as a playmaker ... in particular, this pass, because I just laughed out loud.

Don’t lie. You thought this was a shot, too.

That’s an absurd pass when you break it down and truthfully, one that he probably wasn’t looking to make at first. That looked like a blocked shot attempt that was perfectly placed in the shooter’s pocket for a left corner triple. That’s much, much harder to do than you’d think, even with a wide-open shooter.

A great opening set from Brewster offensively in this game. Clarke placed this exactly where it was supposed to be.

This was the product of good execution in the half-court to open the game from Brewster, but Clarke knew exactly where this pass needed to be when his teammate coming off the cross backscreen to free him up. (I’d like to see this set from Kentucky with their plethora of bigs, too. They’ve got some good and capable passers on this squad.)

See the pass, make the simple pass.

Projecting Clarke’s role on this year’s roster

I’ve personally been thinking it and saying it (including to help open this preview) and I’m not the only one. Clarke, along with BJ Boston, are going to be similar to the dynamic Fox-Monk pairing that came within an eyelash of going to the Final Four a few years back. They’re both just a blast to watch and nothing looks forced at times.

(I apologize to the commenter because I can’t remember who you are, but to who asked me, “Isn’t Clarke’s ceiling as high as Boston’s when it comes to the NBA draft process?” ... here’s a long answer shortened: absolutely. He’s just scratching the surface.)

Don’t get me wrong. He’s not flawless. He’s an extremely streaky shooter at times and the percentages weren’t kind to him this past season from 3, but most wings coming into college aren’t exactly knockdown snipers. The effort does dip at times when the ball isn’t touching his hands for a few possessions, but when he needs to turn it on, the switch will be flipped for all to see.

Still, he’s an absolute bucket-getter at times and will freeze some defenders when he’s isolated one-on-one in the perimeter to give him space to attack the rim at will. I hit on the passing touch and ability earlier, but with a good chuck of the roster being able to handle the rock within the offense, he won’t be relied on a ton to run the show and that’s fine. He can go get you some points when you need him to.

In recent times, his game oozes a more capable Monk defensively with the offense, and J. Kyle Mann’s excellent breakdown on his overall profile mentioned a Will Barton reference and I completely agree with his current body.

Kentucky is loaded with big men up front, especially if Olivier Sarr is ruled eligible to suit up this season, but the guards will determine how far this team goes, even in a weird season like they’re prepping to go through. So basically, it’s a John Calipari team to a T.