As the seconds ticked down in the second half of the Buffalo-Arizona game, the Bulls found themselves comfortably in front of the heavily favored Wildcats. The score was 86-64 in a stunning performance by the MAC champions. Led by former Tiger Wes Clark, the Bulls weren’t done yet.
Clark, a tough, edgy point guard from Romulus (Mich.) High and once a top-100 recruit, stared down the Wildcat defense and calmly stepped into a deep 3-point shot, which set the Bulls’ bench on fire as head coach Nate Oats called a timeout to get his bench players some run in the NCAA Tournament.
Clark finished with 25 points, seven assists and four rebounds. He accomplished a lifelong goal of playing in the NCAA tournament. It had taken a while.
Clark played for Oats at Romulus, and played a major role for The Family, a stacked AAU team from Detroit. He was recruited by and committed to Frank Haith at Missouri. But he had a rocky freshman season playing behind two future NBA players in Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown, and Missouri’s season fell short of the NCAA due to a lack of depth on the roster.
For some reason, the next three seasons of Missouri basketball are a blur to me, but for some reason, Clark ended up at Buffalo this season, reunited with his high school coach. He sat out the first 10 games, but the Bulls went 20-5 with Clark in the lineup, and he looked every bit the part of the player we all hoped to see in black and gold.
The marriage between Clark and Missouri didn’t last, as Clark rarely made things easy on himself off the court. But anyone who could corral him off the court would be rewarded on it. Clark always played with a fury and edge most coaches would dream of from their lead guard. And he was the perfect compliment to Oats and the Buffalo roster. He can score, pass, and defend, but most importantly he instills an attitude that helped to will the Bulls to an upset over Arizona.
So happy for my brother @Im_back_15 ! Detroit made . Ford tough !!!— Tramaine Isabell (@oTrillMaine) March 16, 2018
Toughness WINS!— Kim English (@Englishscope24) March 16, 2018
Wes Clark on leaving Missouri: “I lost my confidence and my competitive edge. I lost the fire of winning.”— Jarrett Sutton (@JarrettTSutton) March 16, 2018
Dude is playing in the NCAA Tournament and leading this Buffalo team. Good for him!
As much as you can love a player you don’t know personally, I love Clark. He’s not a perfect player, but I always loved watching him compete and play.
I’m happy for his success, even though I had Arizona going to the Final Four (one of these days I’ll learn, Sean Miller, one of these days). It was fun to watch him go. Whatever happened over the last three years is behind us, but sometimes we can lose site of the peripheral casualties of a program which struggled to scrap together wins.
That’s why its fun to watch Johnathan Williams III and Wes Clark do well. I’m happy for Namon Wright’s success at Colorado, and Tramaine Isabell’s at Drexel, and Jakeenan Gant’s at UL Lafayette. I wish for success for Willie Jackson, Frankie Hughes, and K.J. Walton also. They deserve to do well. It’s obviously fun to watch the guys who stuck around get to taste an NCAA tournament and 20 wins as well.
Next up for Clark and Buffalo: Kentucky and a good pick-and-roll defender in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Random SEC Musings:
- The league went 4-0 on day one. That was good and hopefully an omen of things to come.
- Georgia is hiring Tom Crean after striking out on Thad Matta. Matta turning the job down was a very good thing for the Bulldogs, as Crean will grind it out down there and will make Georgia a really fun team to watch.
- Collin Sexton is so fun to watch, and him versus Villanova on Saturday is going to be fantastic, especially if John Petty shoots like he did against Virginia Tech.
- Kentucky struggled with Davidson, which shouldn’t be a surprise. That they won WITHOUT MAKING A 3-POINT SHOT should be!
- Florida whipped a tired Saint Bonaventure team, and their matchup against Texas Tech is one that I like for the Gators. Both are good defensive teams, but Jalen Hudson and Egor Koulachov’s ability to make 3s should give them the edge.
- I don’t think Tennessee is going to be slowed much by Loyola. They look like a team on a mission.
Enjoy day 2 of the NCAA tournament! Missouri plays tonight.