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Former Kentucky basketball player Terrence Clarke, who played his lone season for the Wildcats in 2020-21, died in a car accident in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 19.
The news of the death was confirmed by the University of Kentucky on Thursday night.
"I am absolutely gutted and sick tonight," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "A young person who we all love has just lost his life too soon, one with all of his dreams and hopes ahead of him. Terrence Clarke was a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy. People gravitated to him, and to hear we have lost him is just hard for all of us to comprehend right now. We are all in shock."
Clarke was in Los Angeles preparing for the NBA draft, for which he’d declared after the season ended. He’d recently signed with the Klutch agency and projected to be a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. Clarke averaged 9.6 points per game for Kentucky last season, but was limited to eight games and missed SEC play with a leg injury.
Clarke was one of the most decorated players to come from Boston in the past decade. He ranked No. 8 in the final Rivals.com rankings for the class of 2020 after reclassifying his junior year to join the No. 1 ranked recruiting class at Kentucky.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Erik Kaloyanides, who owns Athletic Evolution in Woburn, Massachusetts, where Clarke worked out. “He was a great young man, he worked hard and had so much potential.”
Word of Clarke’s death spread quickly through the Kentucky, NBA and New England basketball community. Teary phone calls, social media messages of disbelief and overwhelming grief reverberated from coast to coast.
The news hit hard in Boston, where Clarke took pride in being the rare highly ranked player from the city. According to a Boston Globe story in 2019, Clarke lived in the Roslindale neighborhood but spent much of his time growing up in Roxbury at the Vine Street Community Center.
“I really want to do this for myself, but I also want to do this for my community because [Boston] has never been on the map,” Clarke told the Boston Globe in 2019. “Nobody would say, ‘Oh, [top] basketball players come from Boston.’ I want to be the person to make that happen.”
Clarke chose Kentucky over schools like Duke, Boston College, Texas, Kansas and UCLA.
He held a gilded offer sheet as he’d emerged as one of the best high school players in the country, earning McDonald’s All American honors and helped lead Brewster Academy (New Hampshire) to a 2019 National Prep Championship. On Nike’s elite EYBL circuit, he averaged 16.2 points per game.
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