Bad news for Southern California high school basketball fans: Heritage Christian’s 5-star sophomore guard Skyy Clark is transferring to Brentwood Academy in Tennessee. The good news is, we will all get to see him play on TV at higher levels. The question is, how good will he be in college and beyond?
Clark is the top-ranked combo guard in the Class of 2022. He has at least 16 college offers already with UCLA, Arizona, and Kentucky among the favorites.
I normally don’t do scouting reports for sophomores since they have so much more time left to grow and develop, but Clark showed more than enough to talk about in just two years at Heritage Christian.
COMPLETE OFFENSIVE JUGGERNAUT
The numbers don’t lie with Clark: 25.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.5 steals a game on 50% shooting. He made 81 of 207 threes this past season, good for over 2.6 makes per game at 39%. There are very few sophomores in the country, if any, putting up those numbers on a team that spent much of the season ranked in the top-100 nationally.
As important as anything else is that many of his best games have come against the Warriors’ best competition, such as his 35-point outburst against Windward and 33-point performance on 72% shooting against Alemany.
As the 247 5-star ranking suggests, it is not an exaggeration to say that Clark is one of the most offensively talented sophomore combo guards you will ever see. That doesn’t mean his game is perfect or guarantee that he’ll thrive in college or the NBA. But he’s already one of the best shooters in high school basketball as a sophomore, his handles are elite, and his ability to finish at the rim is also far ahead of his years.
Shooting 81-for-207 from three is outstanding, and that’s before factoring in that it’s coming against some of the better defenses in the country that are geared up to take away his deep ball. And he doesn’t get many easy spot-up looks in high school – a large chunk of his looks are unassisted and come with a high degree of difficulty. He has a very quick release, and how little daylight he needs to get off a shot is rare.
247 lists Clark at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, and Heritage Christian listed him at 6-3 right before the season. He already has the prototypical size of an NBA point guard as a sophomore, with rare natural bulk and core strength for his age and position. It not only helps him launch from deep, but also greatly helps his playmaking.
Clark has very strong handles, and he can get to his spots without losing vision of the defense or needing to stop the ball and put on the And-1 Clinic. He has the advanced handling skills to bring the flash, but he’s focused on getting to his spots and has very little wasted movement.
His core strength allows him to keep a low center of gravity and both create and absorb contact while dribbling without losing balance. He’s already great at physically dictating to his defender where on the court he wants to get to, and he does so with purpose. Decisiveness and reading defenses ahead of time are part of what sets Clark apart from the pack, with bullying defenders off the dribble as a key component. For a guy who has very good athleticism but won’t be physically dominant over everyone at higher levels, those are crucial positives for his potential down the road.
Finally, great ability to finish at the rim makes Clark a complete scorer, with his core strength again being key.
He isn’t particularly long and won’t win an NBA dunk contest, but he can cram with emphasis even in a little traffic without needing to load up. Clark is always good for a smooth double-clutch layup – including with his left hand – and uses his bulk to shield the ball from defenders. His ability to hang in the air without a dramatic gather throws defenders off. Try to load up on him and he’s either keeping his dribble alive after a hesitation or pump-faking and reacting. He’s always a step ahead, and defenders have to pick their poison.
THE BIG QUESTION: IS HE A POINT GUARD IN THE NBA?
Clark is regarded as a combo guard more than a true point for the time being, and the difference between 6-3 and 6-4 or 6-5 for a combo guard is often critical. Especially for a guy like Clark without a 6-8 wingspan. Since he’s 6-foot-3 at 16 years old, there’s a chance he grows another inch or two, which would radically reduce any worries about being a tweener guard in the NBA both offensively and defensively.
But let’s say Clark stays at 6-3. He already projects as a lock to excel by his first or second year of college. What would it take for him to stick in the NBA, and potentially dominate?
At 6-3, he’d have to shake the combo guard label. While his 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio leaves much to be desired (4.2 of both per game), he has shown plenty of signs of advanced facilitating, including in summer circuits where it’s harder for foes to double-team him 40 feet out.
Clark’s ability to dish through traffic is already ahead of his age. With his head always up, he reads defenses in advance and sees openings that it seems like he shouldn’t be able to. And he almost never telegraphs a pass. With such a polished scoring package, this part of his game is likely to be his primary focus on improving for the next few years. And of course his ridiculous scoring prowess will always make his distribution game easier.
One x-factor is that Heritage Christian was dependent on Clark to initiate their halfcourt offense against elite defenses. At higher levels, perhaps he can spend more time running off of screens while still at point guard like Steph Curry, Kyle Lowry, and Landry Shamet do. That could be huge.
Matching up with NBA point guards defensively could be a challenge since he lacks great length and will be a very good but not elite athlete at the NBA level. But Clark is an intense competitor who prioritizes winning. He takes every challenge to heart, and, pivotally, is more than willing to defend within a team concept.
Because he’s a 6-3 sophomore, it’s too early to try to pinpoint if or where he’ll land in the NBA. But he has an unbelievable amount of tools, with his competitive fire, killer instinct, and basketball IQ among them. For now, Clark at least has a very strong chance to have a long tenure in the NBA as an excellent role player, and very possibly has the ceiling to reach great heights.