I will admit that when Top-25 senior Skyy Clark, who de-committed from Kentucky last month, announced he was heading to Illinois, the first thing I thought of was an obscure Motley Crue song from when John Corabi fronted the band.
This is a pretty big deal. After this season, the basketball team is losing a lot, with Trent Frazier, Andre Curbelo, Alfonso Plummer, and Da’Monte Williams moving on. Now they have a young but talented backcourt consisting of Clark, Jayden Epps, and Sencire Harris coming to Champaign.
I’m not a college basketball junkie, and I can’t tell you all the players and their stats, so I turn to people who live and breathe this stuff. Robert Rosenthal at IlliniBoard has a great breakdown on Skyy Clark and what he brings to the table. I was especially taken with who he thinks is a comparable player.
A better comp than Richard McBride just popped into my head. Well, McBride is the Recruiting Trajectory Comp and this guy is the Non-Illini Player Comp: Demetrius Jackson at Notre Dame. Let me go see where D-Jax was ranked. 34th! Perfect. This is the comp.
Both are stockier lead guards (as opposed to wiry guards like Sencire Harris). They’re not just point guards — they can score. Jackson was decent as a freshman at Notre Dame, great as a sophomore, and then a Naismith Semifinalist/Cousy Finalist his junior year before declaring for the draft. Remember how he single-handedly destroyed us in that Big Ten/ACC Challenge game in December of 2015? Man, he was so good. And he picked between Illinois or Notre Dame, too. Jackson bounced around the NBA for three years before going to Europe (probably just too short for the NBA), but great, great college player.
Skyy Clark is a bit taller, so that will help his pro prospects. And if he returns to 100% after the knee injury is fully rehabbed, he might be a 2-year college player instead of a 3-year college player. But that’s the kind of player I see us getting here. Our own D-Jax.
My fears? The lost explosiveness from the ACL injury means he’s a “maybe needs a year before he’s ready” and we need him now.
Upside? He returns to being a top-10 player (where he was ranked at this time last year) and is a 2-and-done superstar at Illinois.
Where’s the orange Kool-Air for me to drink?