|Junior||6’8″ 215||Power Forward||Gonzaga||DOB: 9/19/96|
|16.9 ppg||8.6 rpg||3.2 bpg||FG: 68.7%||3 PT: 26.7%|
NBA Comparison: Aaron Gordon
Strengths: Athleticism, Shot Blocking, Perimeter Defense, Rebounding
Weaknesses: Raw Offensively, Lack of Competition, Position Fit
Beginning his college career at San Diego after not being recruited at a high level, he was in a reserve role as a freshman but showed that he could make an impact averaging 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. As a sophomore he took a big jump to 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game becoming one of the best players in their conference. After his second year he decided to transfer to Gonzaga to help him be able to get to the NBA, and despite having to sit out a year, he seems to have made the right decision. In his first year with Gonzaga he averaged 16.9 points to go with 8.6 rebounds per game against much tougher competition and better talent around him. Athleticism is the talent that allows Clarke to score most of his points, being deadly on the fast break and having the ability to finish at the rim. He has shown that he can score at times with his back to the basket in a variety of ways, but that will become much harder to do at the NBA. As a top level jumper he is able to block shots at a rate that is more common with a player who is far taller. As a freshman he averaged 1.2 blocks per game, 2.6 as a sophomore, and 3.2 as a junior. On the defensive side it is not just blocking shots, he can guard multiple positions, being a solid defender on the wing and down low. Clarke rebounded well in college, averaging 8.6 as a sophomore, and 8.9 as a junior, and this is an aspect of his game that translates well to the next level.
While Clarke has dominated in college mainly using his athleticism, the increased athletic ability in the NBA means he will need to improve his offensive skill set to reach his ceiling as a professional. His outside shot does not have any mechanical flaws so it will just simply be about Clarke putting in the work to become a more consistent shooter, and then doing it in games. With that said, many players have trouble extending their game, so it is a gamble on whether or not that happens. He has the athleticism and agility to play from the wing as well as inside at times and in offensive rebounding scenarios, and many teams believe he will have no trouble finding a role. Playing two years at San Diego State is not the best competition that college basketball has to offer, and although Gonzaga does play a much more difficult schedule, their conference games are at a mid-major level. One thing to note is that Clarke was very consistent with his production throughout the season with very few games that he did not make a major impact on the game. Against the hardest competition that Gonzaga faced outside of their conference, which are some of the best teams in college basketball, Clarke put up solid numbers. He scored 17 points and 5 rebounds against Duke, 18 points and 4 rebounds against Arizona, 21 points and 9 rebounds against Tennessee, 36 points and 8 rebounds against Baylor, and 18 points to go with 12 rebounds against Texas Tech. While the game against Baylor was his coming out party to some fans, Clarke has played well against some of the top talent in college basketball in multiple cases.
Here is an example of his shot blocking skills:
THIS BLOCK FROM BRANDON CLARKE >>>pic.twitter.com/lJscyOFotX— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) December 9, 2018
This play shows his ability to finish above the rim:
He’s a baaad man!— CollegeBB News (@CollegeBBNCAA) March 24, 2019
Brandon Clarke breaks Adam Morrison’s Zag record for most points in an NCAA Tournament game (36). (1) Gonzaga downs (9) Baylor 83-71.
Clarke is projected to go in the first round by some, and others have him going in the early second round. We expect him to go in the mid to late first round, but if a team feels he can improve offensively they could take a flyer selecting him earlier. His ceiling as a professional is a starter playing both the small and power forward position, being a top defender while putting up solid offensive numbers. The worst case scenario for Clarke is that he is not able to extend his game out to the three point line and ends up in a limited role on a roster as a solid defender who can give you an offensive spark with highlight plays.