The EYBL season came to an end last week and with it the end of the unofficial basketball calendar year.
In retrospect, Brewster Academy and Expressions Elite product Terrence Clarke‘s sophomore campaign certainly had its ups and downs, but there was far more good than bad with the year being characterized by significant growth overall for one of the nation’s top prospects.
Clarke has been a celebrated prospect since first arriving on the high school level. He landed early high-major offers, participated in the USA Basketball program, and was a consensus top five player in the country according to each of the three reputable national media outlets.
With that type of notoriety though comes unique challenges and while almost all young players strive to garner that type of early recognition, the reality is that those who do are almost always bound to see their status diminish in the coming years.
Why do those early stars typically trend in the opposite direction?
Distractions present themselves in correlation to that early hype in all types of different forms. There’s the entitlement that early accolades can bring, especially at such a young age that they lack the maturity to handle success. Very often, their drive and work-ethic will come in an inverse correlation to the attention.
Pragmatically, there’s also the fact that other prospects are bound to emerge, and when you’re already at the top, the best you can do is hold your ground.
That’s especially true in a national class like 2021, which is one of the best the country has seen in the last several years, especially at the top.
Clarke has been one of the mainstays in the group, and while peers like Jonathan Kuminga and others ascend on the scene, Clarke has maintained his spot among the national elite by continuing to trend in a linear direction.
Any young player is going to have their bumps along the way. The key is showing resolve through adversity, learning from the tough moments, and remaining focused on the task of continuing to grow and improve.
There were moments at Brewster, especially early in the season, that were a challenge, and there were moments in the EYBL, even at the Peach Jam, which were as well. The fact of the matter though is that when you take a step back and survey Clarke’s year as a whole, it has undoubtedly been a year of growth, which has allowed him to remain among a very select few at the top of the 2021 national class.
Ultimately, the core of what makes Clarke special is his combination of perimeter size and developing skill, leading to tremendous potential versatility. At 6-foot-7, he has the size of a wing but the fluidity of a smaller guard. His physical tools separated him at a young age but he’s continued to develop his game and add new weapons.
His jumper is an evolving weapon, as he showed in the NEPSAC finals. His understanding of the game, ability to make reads off the dribble, and operate as a big lead guard have also developed as he’s clearly benefited from the increased daily competition he’s seen this year.
Some of his most impressive progressions in the last year though have been more subtle. This spring, he embraced a true leadership mentality for the first time. He was playing in the flow, more efficient with the ball, impacting the game in ways beyond scoring and also both keeping his teammates engaged and happy, which is a daunting challenge for a highly talented young player. As, and if, he continues to ascend in all of those areas, his stock and long-term projection will remain as optimistic as it currently is.
From a recruiting standpoint, Clarke is collecting scholarship offers in bundles, including a 24 hour window where he pulled in nine offers last month. The reality though is that offers don’t matter for a player like Clarke. While John Calipari and Penny Hardaway were among the numerous head coaches watching him at Peach Jam, Clarke is going to be able to go wherever he wants.
His future remains firmly in his hands, that’s what happens when you’re a uniquely talented prospect and you continue to ascend like Terrence Clarke has over the last year.