Ian Clark adds to list of college honors, looks toward professional prospects

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 9:29pm

Ian Clark has yet to hire an agent. He won’t watch the NBA Draft in June with bated breath.

Just the idea of landing in training camp with an NBA team is surreal to Belmont’s NCAA era scoring leader.

“All I’ve heard mostly is that I have the opportunity. For me, that is all I need,” Clark said on Monday. “Nobody really expected me to be in this position. I don’t take it for granted. The opportunity is there and I’m going to try to make the best of it.”

Before Clark embarks on the next journey of his basketball career, he continues to be recognized for his work at Belmont.

On Monday, the shooting guard earned honorable mention All-America honors from the Associated Press. He is just the third Belmont player to receive All-America notice from the AP, joining Adam Sonn (2003) and Alex Renfroe (2009). Clark, the co-Ohio Valley Conference player of the year, was also named to the Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America Team on Monday.

He spent the afternoon at the Curb Event Center warming up for the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-point Championships.

Clark will be joined by head coach Rick Byrd and assistant coach Mark Price when he heads to Atlanta later this week to compete in the 3-point contest on Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN). The competition will be held at Georgia Tech in advance of the Final Four.

Next weekend, from April 10-13, he’ll participate in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia. More than 100 NBA scouts, along with representatives from European teams, will attend. Others expected to participate include Butler’s Rotnei Clarke, Travis Releford of Kansas, Arizona’s Mark Lyons, Matthew Dellavedova of St. Mary’s and Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley.

For Clark, the showcase offers another platform to improve his professional stock.

The Memphis native has scored more points (1,920) and made more 3-pointers (340) than any Belmont player in the NCAA era, which began in 1997. But the 6-foot-3 guard will have to debunk concerns about his size — he weighs 180 pounds — and show off his versatility. Clark believes he can excel as a combination guard who can shoot, handle the ball, run the offense and play defense.

If Clark were to break into the NBA he’d need to show his everyday strength first, Byrd says. The veteran coach says the NBA might come “two or three or four years down the road” after Clark excels on an NBA Development League team or overseas.

“I’m certainly not an expert on the NBA. I don’t even watch a lot of it,” Byrd said. “I think he is a guy who would have to develop into that player. I think he has to get stronger and his body has to get bigger. He has to be able to withstand even more physicality than he has had to here. I don’t think there is any question his skill level is good enough.”

Since his college career ended more than a week ago with a loss to Arizona in the NCAA Tournament, Clark has focused on making sure he is on track to graduate next month.

He hopes he won’t have to put his degree in business administration to use for a while. He is in the process of searching for an agent. While a future in the NBA is murky, Clark is confident he could play on the highest level.

“I think so,” Clark said. “I think that is the first step is having the confidence in yourself to know you can play at the next level. I think if every guy had that mentality then everybody would be in the NBA and, of course, there are not that many spots. So hopefully I can impress the people I need to impress and make a good mark for myself and go from there.”