Suns Introduce First-Round Draft Pick Earl Clark
Posted: June 26, 2009
For someone who was forced to cancel his initial pre-draft workout in Phoenix due to the birth of his daughter, Earl Clark is quickly making up for lost time in terms of his recent appearances at US Airways Center.
Less than week after impressing the Suns’ front office with his defense in last Saturday’s group workout at the Purple Palace, the former Louisville forward was officially introduced by Phoenix Friday – one day after having his named called as the 14th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
“This was an easy decision ultimately,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr about selecting Clark. “Once we narrowed down our candidates, it was obvious that Earl was a good fit. He’s a very versatile player both offensively and defensively. He can play multiple positions and he can do a lot of things well. We look at him like a hybrid – he can play at the three or four. He can switch out and guard perimeter guys or battle bigger guys on the inside. He gives us a lot of flexibility and versatility, and he’s somebody who we feel strongly about as a person as we continue to add good players to our roster.”
Going on minimal sleep after a festive draft night spent with his family, Clark added, “Everything I’ve been waiting for since I first picked up a basketball happened at that moment (the Suns selected me). It was a great night. I love this game and I’m very passionate. I’m not a guy who is going to go out there and beat on my chest and scream, but I’m out there giving it my all.”
Leading the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding (14.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg) in 2009 en route to the school’s first Big East Tournament title, the 21-year-old admits he owes a lot to his former collegiate coach, Rick Pitino. Under the longtime Louisville coach, Clark averaged 10.6 ppg and seven boards a night in 104 career games (63 starts).
“Coach P prepared me a lot, both on and off the court,” Clark said. “He sat me down and told me things about life, and as far as basketball, he taught me all the fundamentals. As a young kid, I could play but I was lacking those fundamentals, and he helped me with all that.”
When asked about areas of improvement in terms of his game, Clark openly answered before segueing into what he’s most looking forward to once the 2009-10 NBA season tips off.
“I’m trying to be a more consistent shooter,” he said. “I’m definitely getting into the gym. The NBA is a more open game. You have more space. There are more pick and rolls. I’m looking forward to the transition.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing with a point guard like Steve Nash. Coaches say he can make you a great player. He’ll find you. He’ll get you at the ball at the right time, and I’m looking forward to playing in the Suns’ style. It fits me well, and I’m ready to go.”
Being “ready to go” is exactly the sentiment shared by Head Coach Alvin Gentry, who is already impressed with both his newest player’s resume and potential at the NBA level.
“He’s exactly the kind of player I like to coach,” Gentry said. “Because of his versatility, I can see him as the type of guy who can rebound the basketball and even push the ball up the court. The biggest thing is I think he will be a very good defender. He’s been taught well by Coach Pitino. I also think he’ll be able to help us with screen-and-roll situations. He’ll be a very good player for us for a lot of years.”