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NBA player shares tips, stories at Lander clinic

NBA player shares tips, stories at Lander clinic

Aug 18, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

Ian Clark's Junior Jazz clinic drew about 40 youth basketball players.

Utah Jazz guard Ian Clark had never visited Wyoming before this week.

That changed when Clark arrived Wednesday for a Junior Jazz basketball clinic at Starrett Junior High in Lander.

The camp attracted close to 40 youth basketball players.

Clark made other stops on Pinedale and Big Piney before the Lander clinic.

The 6-foot-3,173-pound pro basketball player is from Germantown, Tenn. He played his college basketball at Belmont University.

"We stopped in Jackson, and it's a nice place there," Clark said. "I was tempted to try elk, but I didn't. I stuck to what I knew."

Clark continued his tour Thursday with clinics in Rawlins, Hanna and Green River. He said he enjoys representing the Jazz.

"It wasn't about being picked, it was kind of volunteering," Clark said. "I did something during the year, and I loved it. They told me that I should volunteer. I jumped right on it."

Camp clinic

The clinic opened up with the campers doing layup drills under the eye of Clark.

After the drills were done, Clark showed his 3-point shooting skills and launched several half-court bombs. The first one went right into the net.

"I like it for the kids shake hands and to come back and play games with them," Clark said. "It's a big part for us is to give back to the community because we are fortunate to be in our position."

The camp ended when Clark signed autographs.

Jazz experience

In July of 2013, Clark signed a two-year contract with the Jazz after his showing in the Las Vegas summer league.

"It was a great feeling," Clark said. "It was a dream come true. That is what you have worked all your life for."

Clark played in 23 games and averaged 3.0 points per game last year.

"I learned a lot from the veterans that we had," Clark said. "I hope that I can put that into my game this year."

Clark is using the summer to sharpen up his skills.

"I need to work on my point-guard skills, and being able to be a combo guard," Clark said. "I have been playing shooting guard all my life, so it's different playing point guard at this level with such great point guards in the league."

The Jazz finished the season with a record of 25-57 to place 15th the Western Conference.

"We are still young this year, but we have core pieces coming back," Clark said. "We added a few new pieces, and we are going to be fun to watch."

After letting go former coach Tyrone Corbin, the Jazz hired coach Quin Snyder to direct the team.

"Coach Snyder is a great guy," Clark said. "He got to know us quick on a personal level this summer during the summer league.

College standout

While playing college basketball at Belmont University, Clark qualified for to the NCAA tournament three straight times.

In his senior season, Clark guided Belmont to the Ohio Valley Conference title.

He averaged 18.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

"You grow up wanting to play in the NCAA tournament," Clark said. "We were fortunate to play in it three times. We didn't make it out of the first round like we wanted to. It was all about the experience."

Clark and his Belmont teammates lost to Arizona in his final game.

"The first year, we were just happy to be there," Clark said. "The last year, we were focused on winning the game. We were in the game for most of the time. Those schools, they are powerhouses for a reason."

He received his degree in business management.

"It's very important," Clark said. "I wanted to do it for my parents and myself. I know that basketball is not going to last forever. It starts at the early age, doing your classwork."

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