Leading by example Fourth-year forward Brody Clarke has become the face of the Golden Bears basketball program

Growing up in the Clarke household, watching basketball together as a family was a regular routine.

They had their moments as fans, cheering, but a lot of time was spent analyzing the game and University of Alberta Golden Bears power forward Brody Clarke wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Basketball simply runs in Brody’s bloodstream. His father Norman played several years on the Canadian national team and represented his country in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

His mother Natalie was a two-time national champion at Laurentian University. His older brother Julian played NCAA Division-1 at Santa Clara University.

“I can remember watching the NBA Finals, Celtics and Lakers and one of us would speak up and break down a certain play. We’d see Kobe (Bryant) pivot and someone would say ‘Did you see how Kobe did his jab and step back?’ Everyone would marvel at the way his footwork was,” said Clarke.

“Most people would be like wow, amazing play, but for us, we were always picking up the little things from a skill perspective.

“Watching basketball was always something for the betterment of us and our basketball careers. It would be cool to go back and be a fly on the wall and listen into those conversations we had about those basketball scenarios.”

Growing up and being able to pick his dad’s brain about the game of basketball was influential and Clarke knows how special of an opportunity it was.

“He has a basketball IQ that most kids just don’t have the opportunity to grow up around, and I was spoiled,” said Clarke.

“I remember watching games with him or having practices with him where he would just go at me about things I didn’t understand to his level. Not just with hard work, but with offensive and defensive schemes.”

Clarke has had a profound impact on the Golden Bears program since joining in 2015. He won Canada West rookie of the year honours his freshman year. He’s helped Alberta win a Canada West title in 2017 and has played an integral role in helping build Alberta back into a national championship contender.

The No. 5 ranked Golden Bears will look to earn their third-straight trip to the U SPORTS Final 8 tournament next month when they host the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns in a best-of-three quarterfinal series beginning Thursday at Saville Community Sports Centre.

This year, Canada West basketball fans are witnessing just how special Clarke can be. His offensive numbers are explosive. He finished the regular season second in conference scoring (19.8 points per game) and led the nation in rebounding (11.0 per game).

Clarke has always played a pivotal role on team’s he’s been part of, but most importantly he’s proving that this is his team to lead now.

With the program losing sharp-shooters like Mamadou Gueye, Lyndon Annetts, Geoff Pippus and Austin Waddoups, Clarke took it upon himself to become more of a threat from outside the paint. Clarke's become a presence all over the court and can stretch the floor with a deadly mid-range jumper and three-point shot.

It gives Golden Bears head coach Barnaby Craddock multiple lineup options to put on the floor.

He spent the summer in Edmonton working with Craddock and assistant coach and former Golden Bear Jordan Baker working on his shot.

Barnaby Craddock

“I wanted to embrace more of a leadership role and I knew that more of that shooting the ball responsibility was going to fall on me,” said Clarke.

“ I had to put the work in to help the team so I wasn’t just going to the big guy doing the work in the paint. I had to be able to step outside and hit big shots too."

Clarke’s best example came in the Golden Bears final regular season game. With a chance to secure the No.2 seed in the Canada West playoffs, Clarke posted a 40-point, 11 rebound and four assist stat line against the No.7 ranked University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

He became just the fifth player in program history to have a 40-point game.

Throughout his tenure with the program, Clarke’s been a student-athlete that the program has been able to rely on both on the court and in the classroom.

“We wanted to see him progress and continue to improve year-to-year and I think it’s a big credit to him,” said Craddock.

“He takes care of his academics, he's finishing up his degree in engineering (this year) and he entering into his master’s of business (next year) and that’s a major accomplishment. On the court, he’s taken it upon himself to improve his game in all areas, and it’s awesome to see.”

Clarke's front and centre of a program that is once again a national championship threat, despite having seven freshman on the team this year.

He’s helping guide a young Golden Bears group on how to be successful on the court and in the classroom.

Clarke is more vocal in practices. If one of his freshman teammates need help breaking down video after practice or advice on helping balance school and academics, Clarke answers the call. He’s taken on this leadership role and flourished.

“He epitomizes the (Golden Bears) culture. When you have new fresh recruits coming into the program and they see a guy so dedicated academically and on the basketball court. He’s an example smacking them right in their face,” said Craddock.

“We have talented players coming in, but they can really learn from him. Nobody out works Brody and it he means so much to this program being able to carry on our culture every day.”

Created By
Jason Hills

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