Basketball season is over a month away, but former Belmont standout and recently signed NBA guard Ian Clark remains a popular subject among the Bruin faithful.
Clark, who started all 33 games last season for the Bruins, rolled through the NBA summer league, earning the Las Vegas MVP title after scoring 33 points in Golden State’s 91-77 victory over Phoenix.
With a two-year contract signed to play for the Utah Jazz, Clark’s NBA journey is just beginning. Here, he speaks with Belmont Vision Sports Editor Katie Greene about life post-Belmont.
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Belmont Vision: What was your mindset heading into summer league?
Ian Clark: I just wanted to play well. That’s what summer league is for – exposure for guys and to show teams what they could do. My mindset was just to play hard and hopefully end up in a good situation.
BV: What about after? You burned the league up. Did you expect to do that well?
Clark: You always hope to do well. Everything isn’t always gonna go your way, but like I said, I just tried to stay ready and when the opportunity came I wanted to make the best of it.
BV: So you end up in Utah. Was that a little bit of déjà vu after the NCAA’s this spring?
Clark: Yeah, it was. It was weird the way it happened. You know, me and my agent, he told me the teams that were interested after summer league and what was gonna happen next. That championship game really helped me a lot, and I ended up at Utah. I feel like it’s a great fit. I like the guys, the coaches, the front office and everybody in this organization. I feel like we have a good chance.
BV: Just a side note, did you get the chance to work with Drew Hanlen this summer?
Clark: Yes, I was, earlier in May and June. We were in Santa Barbara, Calif. together. That whole two months I was working out with him, and he was helping me with a lot, both on and off the court with a lot of things.
BV: It looks like your success speaks well for the both of you.
Clark: Definitely. He’s been doing his thing for a couple of years now. He’s been a big help. I know I can call him any time. His business is growing as well – he’s got guys that have been in the league for a couple of years and they’re doing well.
BV: From a student’s perspective, is there anything you miss about Belmont?
Clark: Definitely the city. I miss being around my teammates and everything about it. Being on campus was great. I miss the teachers, everybody in the academic office and everything like that. It was just a great environment to be around, and I know that everything is still going well and hopefully I’ll be there sometime soon.
BV: Is there any advice you’ve got for this year’s team? We’ve definitely got a tough schedule this year.
Clark: I know those guys have played in big games and have played tough competition, and just for the new guys coming in – be ready to work hard. Coach Byrd and the whole coaching staff do a great job of getting guys prepared and getting them ready. My advice would be to listen to them and to just play hard and have fun.
BV: You’re the first representative of Belmont in the NBA. What does that mean for you and for Belmont?
Clark: I think it’s a big accomplishment for both me and Belmont just because the school has been growing so much in the past few years, and it’s only going to get bigger. From a basketball perspective, we’ve been overlooked a little bit because we’re a small school. Moving to the OVC last year was a big step. For the years to come, those guys have a lot on their shoulders, but I feel that they can step in and handle it.
BV: Any final comments?
Clark: I’m definitely keeping up with all the athletics. Just because I’m not there doesn’t mean I’m not supporting you, and just good luck with everything.
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The Utah Jazz begins preseason play on October 8 at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, hosting Clark’s former summer-league squad, the Golden State Warriors.
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