A once-heralded Illinois basketball class of 2022 just officially lost its top recruit.
The top recruit landed by Underwood was point guard, Skyy Clark. When the Illini landed Clark over teams like Kentucky, it was amazing for the program and fanbase. The cheesy puns coming from this commitment were everywhere. The Skyy is the limit being among the classics.
The class of 2022 was supposed to be the transition from a golden age of Illinois basketball with Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. This group was supposed to do great things for the program and the national brand.
Clark, the No. 33 recruit in the country and the No. 6 point guard in the class of 2022, decided to officially call it quits on Selection Sunday, which was first reported by Joe Tipton of On3.com. On January 7, he decided to take a leave of absence for the program, and he has now entered his name into the transfer portal.
Skyy Clark departing the Illinois basketball program is by no means shocking
When it was announced that Clark was taking a leave of absence from the Illini, I wasn’t ever expecting him back with the Orange and Blue. If he needed a few games off to get his head right, I would have totally understood. But when you take, essentially, the second half of your freshman season off, the writing is pretty clear that you are gone.
So, this departure doesn’t come as a surprise by any means. I think there was some good public relations with Clark leaving the program, labeling it a leave of absence for personal reasons. It is now officially clear that he personally didn’t want to be in Champaign any longer.
Even with Clark departing the program, I think Illinois’ class of 2022 still has an extremely bright future. That might be one of the reasons why Clark left as well. It took him a while to get acclimated to the college game, and the other freshmen were catching on quicker.
In Clark’s first 10 games with the Illini, he was averaging 25.7 minutes per game. In his last three contests, his average dropped down to 20 minutes per game. But this drop wasn’t a surprise. He was struggling on the court. In his final three games, Clark was 4-of-17 from the field and 1-of-9 from three-point range.
The struggles from Clark would lead to more minutes for the other freshmen. Jayden Epps was starting to get more and more playing time. He was Clark’s biggest threat in the backcourt.
Illinois’ freshmen, those who want to be here, now get a chance to take over this program next season. They developed well in 2022-23, and I have high expectations for Epps, Ty Rodgers, and Sencire Harris entering their sophomore campaign.
I never like to see players leave, but with Clark departing midway through the year, I think this helped develop the freshmen who are currently thriving in Champaign. I wish nothing but the best for Clark in the future, and hopefully, we get to face him in a game someday. Good luck at, I assume, Kentucky.