UK Recruiting

A visit to Kentucky is on ‘bucket list’ for top basketball recruit from Los Angeles

A look of hesitation meets the question of how many major college coaches have come by to see five-star basketball prospect Skyy Clark since the start of the fall recruiting period last month.

Kenny Clark, the player’s father, estimated that about 25 schools have been in to see his son over the past few weeks. Listing them all would be a tedious exercise. There was one visit, however, that particularly stood out.

“We had Kentucky in a couple of weeks ago. That’s a dream come true right there,” Clark’s father told the Herald-Leader. “And it motivates him. Especially seeing Coach (Joel) Justus coming in, it motivated him to go even harder.

“It’s Kentucky, baby. That’s the cream of the crop right there. That was a special moment.”

Still just 16 years old but already a subject of UK’s recruiting attention, Skyy Clark recalled that day in late September with a big smile on his face.

“Kentucky is like a dream school,” he said. “So we always talked about it and everything, but once it actually happened and Coach is sitting right there watching you work out — you can’t really explain the feeling.”

Clark — a 6-foot-2 guard from Los Angeles — was a limited participant at the USA Basketball minicamp in Colorado Springs this past weekend after suffering a labrum injury a couple of months ago. He was recently cleared to do some shooting drills, and his father expects him to get full clearance to return to the court this week.

Justus has also told the family that he’s planning to be back in L.A. next week to see Clark a second time. It’s obviously early in the recruiting process, but the dynamic perimeter player is clearly shaping up as a major target for the Wildcats.

247Sports ranks him as the No. 17 overall player in the 2022 class. Only five guards are ahead of him in those rankings.

“He’s a scorer,” said 247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels. “This is a kid that just knows how to put the ball in the basket. He’s more of a ‘2’ guard/combo guard than a primary ball handler, just because of his ability to put the ball in the basket. He can break guys down off the dribble. He can create space. And he can pull up and make tough shots, both from mid-range and three. He’s one of the best scorers that I’ve seen in that class so far.”

Clark described himself as an “all-around point guard” that can do a little bit of everything with the ball, and Daniels’ description of him as something other than a primary ball handler is no slight. In fact, it’s a compliment.

“He can certainly play with the ball in his hands,” Daniels said. “But I think that his natural scoring ability is the best part of his game. So, I think playing him off the ball sometimes is more effective, just because you can tell him to go get a basket.”

Clark averaged 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals per game at Heritage Christian (Calif.) last season, earning freshman All-American honors from MaxPreps.com.

Kentucky has made a point in recent years of forming relationships with recruits and their families earlier in the process, and Clark was one of the main 2022 prospects on the Cats’ list to start this fall recruiting period.

Justus’ plan to return to California for a second visit so soon after the first is an indication of real interest.

“He said he had quite a few people that had been telling him, ‘Hey, you need to go check out this kid Skyy,’” Clark’s father said. “He checked him out and was like, ‘Man, he’s all I heard he was.’ He said he was a great player.”

It’s the Clark family’s hope that they’ll be able to travel to Lexington sometime this season.

UK freshman Johnny Juzang — another Los Angeles-area standout — is close friends with Clark, and the two have stayed in touch since Juzang traveled east earlier this year.

Clark’s father said Juzang talks to his son every week or two, and, so far, he’s delivered glowing reviews of his time in Lexington. He and his son are looking forward to seeing it for themselves.

“We will definitely catch a game and take a tour this year — that’s the plan,” he said. “That’s definitely on our bucket list for this year.”

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Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.
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