Brandon Clarke has been Canadian all his life. After starring at Gonzaga his junior season, the rest of the world started to take notice.
Clarke's father Steve moved to Toronto from Jamaica at age 12. His mother Whitney was born in Port Edwards and moved to Vancouver where she met Clarke's father. Clarke was born in Vancouver and lived there until about three years of age before moving to Phoenix, Arizona. He briefly moved back to Vancouver when he was seven, living there for about seven or eight months before finally re-settling in Arizona.
Although he's spent most of his life in the U.S. and is a dual citizen, make no mistake about it: Brandon Clarke is a proud Canadian.
"Some people knew when I was at San Diego State, but it wasn't really as well known," Clarke told NBA.com. "I feel like people really found out when I was at Gonzaga.
"That's when I started playing better and people started to look into me more and they saw that and they realized that I'm from (Canada) - and I can represent the National Team and I can represent the country."
After a solid high school career in Arizona, Clarke committed to San Jose State where he played two seasons. As a freshman, Clarke was named the Sixth Man of the Year in the Mountain West Conference. In his sophomore season, he started in all 30 games and averaged 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. He was named First Team All-Conference and earned a spot on the All-Defensive Team. Following that breakout season, Clarke decided to transfer to Gonzaga where he had to sit out a season to redshirt.
The year off didn't slow his progress as he earned his way onto the West Coast Conference First-Team and was named WCC Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 16.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game in his lone season with the Bulldogs in 2018-19.
His advanced numbers are even more impressive with a player efficiency rating of 37.2, a true shooting percentage of 70% and a stingy defensive rating of 84 which was the best in the country. His 8.8 win shares also led the country - better than Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and fellow Canadian RJ Barrett, widely projected by many to be the top three players selected in June's draft.
MORE: 2019 NBA Mock Draft
Clarke's strong play has him on the radar even if there's no true consensus about where he'll go. While some have Clark pegged for the lottery, others have him going late in the first round. After those top three picks, the 2019 NBA Draft promises to be full of intrigue and uncertainty as everyone has differing opinions on just about every other prospect, moreso than in most years when more clearly delineated tiers emerge.
If there's a trait that could get a team to bite early on Clarke, it's his versatility. It's an almost pre-requisite for today's positionless NBA and a trait that Clarke has banked on for his shot at the next level.
"Versatility really," Clarke said of what makes him intriguing. "My motor is always going to be going.
"On the defensive end, I'm going to be someone who can guard almost everybody on the court. I'm going to be blocking shots, always. I feel like I'm going to be making really good passes to my teammates. In the paint, I feel like I'm a good finisher every time.
"I've been working on my shot a lot, I'm really hoping that I'll be able to stretch out the floor some too."
Clarke has a busy summer coming up with two key goals.
Step one - continue to go through the draft process which culminates on June 20th when Clarke will eventually hear Commissioner Adam Silver call his name.
Step two - connect with the Canadian National team who will be competing at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in August. Step one, of course, has to be ironed out before step two is a possibility, but Clarke is optimistic that one day he'll wear the red and white.
"That's still a bit of a work in progress, but I'll definitely say 'yeah'," Clarke said of playing for the Canadian National Team. "I'm really hoping that I can play in the Olympics next year, but we'll see how that all goes down.
"I'm definitely just trying to build that relationship right now."
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