Jaylen Clark says UCLA future is up in the air as he rehabs injury
Jaylen Clark will watch from the sidelines in Vegas as UCLA tangles with Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Thursday.
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Clark suffered what was reported to be an Achilles injury — though the exact nature of the injury hasn’t been confirmed by anyone at UCLA — in the Bruins’ 82-73 win over Arizona to close out the regular season. He was seen at UCLA’s practice on Wednesday with his right foot in a cast and using a scooter to get around. Clark told reporters he had surgery on the injury the day after suffering it.
He doesn’t yet have a timetable for his recovery, and he also said he’s not sure if he’s going to return to UCLA for a fourth season.
“That’s something I’ve got to think about, talk to my people with,” he said, per The LA Times’ Ben Bolch.
At the time of the injury, the 6-foot-5 guard was averaging 2.6 steals a night, a mark that ranked first in the Pac-12 and fifth in all of college basketball. In 29 starts and 30 minutes a night this season, he blossomed into a true two-way threat. Clark upped his scoring average from 6.7 points a game in 2021-22 to 13 a night this season. He shot 48% from the field and a career-best 33% from 3-point range. Clark also averaged 6.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists a night.
Depending on the severity of the injury, Clark’s draft stock could be impacted. The 2023 NBA Draft is slated to take place on June 22. The Draft Combine will take place May 16-18 in Chicago. If Clark is unable to work out for teams during the pre-draft process, it’ll be hard to gauge his stock.
He could obviously return to UCLA for another year instead. Depending on what happens with players like Amari Bailey and Tyger Campbell — who still has another year if he wants it — Clark could see a much larger role within the offense.