Mark Turgeon has secured his future backcourt. All that’s left in the 2014 recruiting cycle: get a big man or two.
While the Terps’ first priority is to sign a true post player to bolster their low-post game, they’ve also become increasingly active in pursuing a handful of smaller, athletic wing forwards. And Gary Clark is one of the fastest-rising such prospects, not just for Maryland but nationally as well.
Despite averaging 27 points as a junior, Clark was under-hyped and overlooked outside of his native North Carolina until this summer. His move to the high-profile CP3 AAU program provided a boost in exposure, and his dominant showing in the Peach Jam playoffs in mid-July proved to be a coming-out party.
Now armed with offers from Maryland, N.C. State, Miami, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and others, Clark is enjoying the fruits of his newly improved labor.
“I’ve just been learning to play hard every time out,” said Clark, a versatile and bouncy 6-foot-7 rising senior who will be a ‘face-up 4’ in college. “I think the coaches like my ability to play outside and inside and run the floor.”
N.C. State is viewed by some as the favorite to secure Clark’s services, but he said the hometown school is far from a lock.
“That’s where a lot of people want me to go, but they’re going to support me no matter where I go. I am not really concerned with where I am,” he said.
Clark is planning to do homework on his options soon. He had planned a visit to N.C. State this month, will take an official to Cincinnati in mid-September and is tentatively planning to check out Maryland this month along with potential early-fall trips to Miami and Wake.
“I’m really familiar with the area because that’s where my dad lives [in Brandywine]. I love it there and I grew up there for two or three years,” he said.
Terps coach Mark Turgeon’s successfully filled his roster with talent in his first few cycles, but Clark would likely be the most athletic big man on his roster if he were to end up in College Park.
“I like him. He’s a competitive coach,” Clark said. “They just like how I can rebound the ball and push it on the break. They talk a lot about that.”
And what is Clark looking for in a college program?
“What kind of system they run and how the relationship is between the players and the coaches,” he said.