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Gary Clark 2022 AmeriCup Feature

Gary Clark is Ready for a New Step in His Career: International Basketball

  • Author:
    Steve Drumwright, Red Line Editorial
  • Date:
    Sep 5, 2022

 

Gary Clark is excited for a few reasons.

 

Not only was his selection to the U.S. Men’s AmeriCup Team his first USA Basketball experience, but the 27-year-old is making his debut playing the FIBA-brand of basketball. And as someone who puts defense first, the 6-foot-6 forward is eager to stack up against international players at the AmeriCup, which runs Sept. 2-11 in Recife, Brazil.

 

Clark cited the physicality and lack of defensive three-second violations as key differences between the American pro game and what he expects to see in Brazil.

 

“It’s almost a mixture of college and pickup ball,” he said. “The way we play in America, it’s not going to work here in international ball. We have to play a certain way to be able to be successful, all 12 guys have to buy in to be able to come out victorious.”

 

Clark and the U.S. are on a journey to repeat as AmeriCup gold medalists in Recife. It would be the Americans’ eighth gold in 11 trips to the tournament. They last won back-to-back golds in 1997 and 1999.

 

As a key defender, Clark — who has played 170 games across four NBA seasons — is looking forward to being more aggressive on the international stage.

 

“As a young guy in the league, you get a lot of ticky-tack calls because you’re the young guy,” Clark said. “So you try to do the same things as P.J. Tucker and be physical like P.J., but (NBA officials are) not letting those go. In this (AmeriCup tournament), I can be that P.J. Tucker to the level that he’s at. My physicality, how much you make guys feel you, but also it comes with a toll. The other part is just being able to be vocal and communicate with guys.”

 

His rugged defense and team-oriented style will play a key piece to success for the U.S. in the AmeriCup, U.S. coach Alex Jensen said.

 

“He still wants it,” said Jensen, an assistant with the NBA’s Utah Jazz since 2013. “He wants it to be good. You can tell he’s hungry, which you think everybody should be, but you can really see it in him. He’s teachable, he listens and he wants to make it work for him and us.”

 

Hunger to stick in the NBA is something that drives Clark. After going undrafted in 2018 following a standout career at Cincinnati, he’s played for five NBA teams over four seasons. In 38 games with the New Orleans Pelicans last season, Clark averaged 2.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in just under 10 minutes per game.

 

“It has been a roller coaster, but it’s been telltale,” Clark said. “I’m blessed for my journey that I’ve been on. … I don’t think I’ve grown more ever in my life than I have the last four years, just seeing some highs and some lows, but for the most part, just embracing it, soaking all the knowledge I can so that this season I can be able to put it all out there and put it all together.”

 

Clark credits a strong support group, which includes some big-name NBA stars.

 

“My religion is huge, I’m a big follower of Christ, so I lean on the word,” Clark said. “But for most part, I lean on my mentors. I have Chris Paul, P.J., a lot of guys that have been on the journey with me and my family’s tight-knit.”

 

Playing in the AmeriCup will no doubt get a few more eyes on Clark. He began last season with the Mexico City Capitanes, who made their NBA G League debut. Due to travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitanes played an abbreviated schedule in the G League, with home games in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

The Capitanes, who do not have an NBA affiliate, are scheduled to play all 50 games in the G League in the upcoming season, including home games in Mexico City.

 

“We had a couple of training camp deals, but you know, nothing that beats out the Capitanes situation from last year,” said Clark, who averaged 14.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks in 31 minutes over eight games with the Capitanes. “The role there is substantially better than anywhere else you could go in the G League as far as opportunity, not having any NBA affiliates that are sending guys down. I was first call-up last year, so it’d be nice to go back and be in actual Mexico City. That’s the plan if I don’t get signed between now and then.”

 

Steve Drumwright is a journalist based in Murrieta, California. He is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

 

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