Lift One to A Legend

#11 in your programs but #1 in your hearts, Gary Clark.

A Toast to Gary Clark


What we just witnessed was the last game of a legend. #11 in your programs but #1 in your hearts, Gary Clark. The 6′ 8″ senior out of Clayton, North Carolina has left a lasting impact on the program, one that without a doubt will not be forgotten anytime soon. Four years ago after seeing Gary play for the first time I told a group of friends that he’ll be the closest thing to Kenyon Martin we’ll see again. They shook that off like I was crazy. As the season of his senior year now over, Clark may not be as prolific but he embodies everything it means to be a Bearcat.

His hustle, grit, leadership, and all out effort has put him atop the list of favorites of fans young and old. Who can blame them? The guy is first class and someone we can all be proud to say was a Bearcat. I’m not sure there is anyone as high on Gary Clark as Coach Cronin is,

“One of the greatest kids that you’ll ever coach,” Cronin said. “Guys like Gary Clark, you can’t help but root for them.”

That’s just one of many times I’ve heard Cronin talk up what kind of person Gary Clark is off the court.

Gary Clark was considered a 4 Star recruit coming out of high school and had offers form Pitt, NC State, Maryland, and others. UC associate head coach Larry Davis is credited for finding him, although that fact is disputed, and has a pretty good story about his first encounter with Gary. In a super shortened nutshell Davis told Clark that he didn’t play hard enough to be a Bearcat and left without offering him.

Whatever happened it was for the best. Gary Clark has been a four year starter, he had no red shirt season. He showed up ready to play.

It can be said that since Clark got to Clifton the program has been on an upward trajectory but not without turbulence. Since he got here he’s experienced the loss of Coach Cronin for a season, a 1-3 record against X, early departures from the Tournament each of his first three years, and having to play his senior season at BB&T arena while The Shoemaker Center is being revamped. Clark certainly has made it is own though. Just look at what he’s accomplished at UC.

Accomplishments of Gary Clark

4 year starter

1000 point scorer

1000 rebounds

’17-’18 American Athletic Conference Tournament MVP

’17-’18 American Atheltic Conference Player of the Year

’17-’18 UNANIMOUS American Atheltic All First Team

’17-’18 American Atheltic Conference Defensive Player of the Year

’17-’18 American Atheltic Conference Sportsmanship Award winner

’15-’16 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year

’15-’16 Second Team All Conference

’16-’17 American Championship All-Tournament Team

Most Double Doubles in the Cronin era

’17-’18 American Athletic Conference Player of the week x2

#3 on the UC Rebounding list (behind only the Big O and Jack Twyman)

One thing Bearcats fans certainly enjoyed was the devleopment of Clark over his 4 years in Clifton. The stats show that for sure but he did more than just what showed up in the stats sheet.

Stats

Senior Night

Gary Clark, along with Kyle Washington and Jackson Bart, were honored before the Tulsa game on Feb 25th. It was an emotional game for fans watching Gary Clark live at home for the last time in a Bearcats uniform. The fun was thought to be spoiled after Clark picked up two quick fouls early in the first half. He sat out the rest of the half after scoring just 2 points. After halftime and the Bearcats down by three Clark took over, scoring 15 points in the second half and securing an 8 point win on senior day. Fellow senior Kyle Washington chipped in 8 points as well.

I pretty much held it together during the pregame ceremony, the TV interview with the CBSSN correspondent, and the post game presser. However, it was this interview with the voice of the Bearcats Dan Hoard and his partner Terry Nelson that choked me up. Clark starts to talk about how much it meant to him that his Dad finally made it to a game to watch him in person and got emotional, then I did too. Thankfully Dan saved us from a tear fest. Here’s that interview:

Highlights

#11 has given us plenty to get excited over the past 4 years. Here are my top 5 favorite plays from Clark.

Easily my favorite.

Here’s a 2-fer

Not today sir.

Remember when he lost a tooth at UConn?

and of course Gary Clark the hero…

The AAC Tournament ’18

Gary Clark willed the Bearcats to the championship game. His first game against SMU Clarked anchored the Bearcats once again with a double double. The next day he kept the tradition of beating Memphis again. He posted a second double double with 17 and 12. When it came time to beat Houston a third time in the same season guess what. Gary Clark had his third double double in a row and sealed the game with a free throw with just seconds remaining. Imagine that.

Gary Clark is a guy that we won’t forget anytime soon. His resume as a bearcat parallels that of legends that came before him and while the debate over how to honor those players who have made a lasting impact drums on all I know is Gary Clark’s #11 is now in that conversation.

Here’s to you!

 

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