Feature photo courtesy of Jose Antonio Lopez.
Texas to Las Vegas—that’s the transition that 2017 power forward Tristan Clark has made in order to hone his craft.
Now a rising star at basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep, Clark says that he’s been addicted to basketball since he was little.
“I started out with karate, but I wasn’t feeling it … Then my mom got me into [basketball] because she wanted me to be active,” Clark said.
“[Findlay] has helped a lot,” he said. “Going against the best competition around the world every day—that’s helped me a lot.”
Moreover, moving to Henderson, Nev. (a suburb of Las Vegas roughly 10 times denser in population than his hometown of Judson, Texas) has “made [him] more of a man.” He will certainly have to become more of a man if he wants to survive the gauntlet otherwise known as the Big XII.
The conference currently has six of its 10 teams (yes, there are just 10 teams in the Big XII) in the Associated Press Top 25. Oklahoma boasts arguably the nation’s top player in Buddy Hield and Kansas has now won the conference for the 12th consecutive season. In short, the conference is the model of excellence in college basketball and Clark knows it.
“I have to get stronger in order to play,” he says.
Findlay affords him plenty of opportunities for “statement games” and since the nationally renowned Pilots currently sit at 28-1, they can expect an invitation to the de-facto high school basketball national championship at Dick’s Nationals in late March and early April.
Clark thrives off of such chances.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to play there. It’s basically like college because it’s the best schools in the nation,” he said.
In recent memory, the tournament has hosted the likes of Oak Hill Academy and Montverde Academy, Ben Simmons’ alma mater, among other top high school programs.
“We’ll be on TV and I’m ready for that because I love big games, competitive games.”
More than anything, the junior loves to win. When asked what his favorite basketball moment thus far was, he could not pinpoint one particular instance.
“I enjoy winning, playing a team game, sharing the ball, having fun, competing,” Clark said.
His desire to win as well as his affinity for the spotlight makes Baylor a great fit for him.
“Every time I went up [to campus], Coach [Scott] Drew and the staff told me how much they wanted me, how much they liked my game, and how much I potential I have.”
Clark is exactly the kind of player that Drew covets. As a result, Clark committed in October 2015.
“My long arms, being able to run the floor, blocking shots and being able to finish well above the rim,” Clark identified as his biggest assets on the court. His versatility makes him a tough matchup for any team.
Clark’s body type and athleticism are reminiscent of Perry Jones and he could very well be next in the line of Baylor power forwards to find success in Waco. Although Clark admitted he will have to improve his shooting, he is certainly on the right path if he continues to prioritize winning above all else.
“I want to be around successful people,” Clark said. He’ll certainly find that at Baylor.