UCLA basketball junior guard Jaylen Clark won the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors, according to a Sunday tweet from NCAA March Madness.
A former four-star recruit out of Rancho Cucamonga, California, Clark enrolled with the Bruins in 2020 over offers from California, Illinois, Oklahoma, USC, Xavier, and TCU, among others, according to 247Sports.
Clark took third place on the Bruins’ roster after he ended the season with 13 points per game on a UCLA squad that went 31-6 overall and 18-2 against conference opponents. Senior guards Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell took the two spots ahead of him. Clark saw his role improve from playing nine minutes per game off the bench in the 2020-21 season to taking 29 starts in 30 games played in the 2022-23 season.
The 6-foot-5-inch guard scored a season-high 24 points in an 87-64 win over Denver in December. According to All Bruins Managing Editor Sam Connon, was on pace to break UCLA’s single-season record for steals before his season ended with an Achilles injury in a March 4 game against Arizona.
Jaylen Clark’s UCLA basketball teammates, including Jaquez, dedicated the remainder of the season to him.
“I think we’re playing a lot of Jaylen this tournament,” Jaquez said. “I took a page out of J-Rock’s book, trying to get steals, trying to be active with my hands, try to do it for him.”
Jaylen Clark declared for the 2023 NBA Draft on Wednesday.
“I’d like to thank everyone that has helped me get this far,” Jaylen Clark wrote in an Instagram post. “In particular, I’m especially grateful for my coach Tony, Billy, Craig, Mitchell, Kleck and Tope for believing in me and helping me this far!
“I hope to be a light for the kids coming behind me. Thank you to UCLA and coach Cronin for believing in me. I’d like to announce that I am declaring for the 2023 draft.”
The post UCLA’s Jaylen Clark wins major award after standout season appeared first on ClutchPoints.