Thursday’s NBA Draft was supposed to be the biggest night of Terrence Clarke’s career. Instead, a car accident took his life, preventing the former Kentucky Wildcat from achieving his NBA dream. Commissioner Adam Silver honored the late Clarke during the first round of Thursday night’s draft, inviting Clarke’s surviving family members, including his mother Osmine, to join him on stage. Osmine, along with Clarke’s siblings Tatyana and Gavin, drew a huge ovation from fans in an emotional scene at Barclays Center.
A McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, the Massachusetts native chose to play at Kentucky over other scholarship offers from Duke, UCLA, Texas Tech, Memphis and Boston College. When healthy—the 6’7” guard was hampered by an ankle injury throughout his freshman year—Clarke impressed, averaging 9.6 points in eight games including six starts for the Wildcats before turning pro.
A projected second-round pick, Clarke was killed in Los Angeles after his car struck a pole (police say he ran a red light and didn’t have his seatbelt fastened properly) on April 22nd, dying five months shy of what would have been his 20th birthday. He declared for the draft in March and had just signed with Klutch Sports Group, an agency led by Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James, Ben Simmons, Anthony Davis, Trae Young and Draymond Green, among other NBA standouts.
“Terrence was an All-American high-school basketball star in the Boston area,” said Silver of Clarke. “His extraordinary talent, commitment and dedication to the game deserved to be recognized on this stage.”
Clarke’s coach at Kentucky, John Calipari, seemed appreciate of the gesture, commending the NBA for acknowledging his former player as part of Thursday night’s festivities. Isaiah Jackson, a teammate of Clarke's at Kentucky, was selected by the Wizards (via the Lakers) with the 22nd overall pick, though Washington would ultimately trade him to Indiana for Aaron Holiday.