It’s no secret that last year’s renowned backcourt, sometimes referred to as “the D.C. Three,” experienced a substantial loss this offseason with the graduation of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. In their absence, it is up to the third member of that dynamic trio, senior Jason Clark, to fill the void and provide leadership to a roster of young talent.
“He has shared the spotlight with Chris and Austin, and that’s much different this year,” head coach John Thompson III said. “He’s the elder statesman out there, and he’s ready for that.”
Although Wright and Freeman grabbed most of last year’s headlines, Clark’s scoring touch and usual tough defense proved invaluable to the Hoyas. In one of Georgetown’s best performances of the season, an overtime victory on the road at Missouri, Clark poured in three straight three-point daggers to finish off the then-No. 8 Tigers. Unfortunately, such a strong shooting performance was an exception for Clark last year, not the rule.
“I went through a little slump last year,” Clark said. “That can’t happen to good shooters.”
As a result of his uncharacteristically low average from the floor, Clark rededicated himself this offseason to working on his jump shot.
“I’ve been working on my shot every day in the gym,” he said. “I want to be one of those guys they say just doesn’t miss shots.”
While shooting will always be a priority for Clark, he realized he needed to work on his ball handling to prepare for his more active role in this year’s offense. In the Kenner League over the summer, Clark made it a point to drive to the basket whenever possible to practice his skills off the dribble.
While Clark is sure to be a force on the court this year, he is poised to be a leader off it. Sophomore guard Markel Starks, who will man the backcourt alongside Clark, praised the senior captain’s abilities as a motivator.
“I went into a slump where I was uncomfortable with shooting, and I didn’t shoot particularly well last year,” Starks said. “Jason gave me courage, and a sense of confidence.”
While Clark admitted that he hasn’t had to fill a large leadership role to date on the Hilltop, he pointed to past experiences as evidence as his ability and willingness to guide his young team.
“On my high school team I was a leader, on my AAU team I was a leader, so I’m comfortable being a leader,” Clark said. “I want to be the one young guys come to if they have questions.”
Perhaps Clark’s leadership role on the team was best expressed during the Hoyas’ summer trip to China. While the trip was meant to foster goodwill, it promoted the opposite during a game in Beijing between the Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets when a brawl broke out. Although Clark found himself at the center of the brawl, he was also front and center with Thompson the next day in a demonstration of peace with the Rockets.
“It definitely strengthened us, it brought us a lot closer,” Clark said. “Now we know that when we go through things like that, we have each other’s back.”
Although it’s hard to imagine another brawl this season, it’s easy to see that Jason Clark will continue to be a strong and steady leader, guiding the Hoyas through the ups and downs of the Big East.