Clark earns AAC Defensive Player of the Year and Sportsmanship Award
Senior forward Gary Clark keeps racking up awards. Tuesday he was named American Athletic Defensive Player of the Year. He also claimed the Sportsmanship Award from the conference.
He is the first Bearcat since Kenyon Martin to be named a two time Defensive MVP of the Conference. It is crazy that Clark now can be named in the same sentence as Martin, how cool is that for the senior? Clark is a perfect blueprint of hard work paying off.
University of Cincinnati senior forward Gary Clark (Clayton, N.C./Clayton High School) has been named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and also honored with the league’s Sportsmanship Award.
Clark becomes the first player in the five-year history of The American to win the defensive player of year award twice, claiming the same honor in 2015-16. In fact, a Cincinnati player has won the award on three occasions. Justin Jackson earned the accolade in 2013-14.
Clark becomes the first Bearcat to win a league’s defensive player of the year award multiple times since Kenyon Martin (Conference USA in 1998 and 1999).
A talented defender able to guard multiple positions, Clark leads the league in rebounds (8.2 per game) and ranks among the AAC leaders in defensive rebounds (fourth at 5.3), blocks (sixth at 1.3), and steals (seventh at 1.5).
Clark recorded at least one block in 14 of 18 conference games, including three in Cincinnati’s 80-70 home win over Houston (Jan. 31). He recorded a career-high five blocks against Mississippi State (Dec. 12) in the Bearcats’ 65-50 victory against the Bulldogs. He swiped as many as three steals four times, including three of the last five games of the regular season.
Dominant on the glass, Clark has led the Bearcats in rebounds in 20 of 31 games. He ranks fourth in school history with 1,074 career rebounds.
Active in the passing lanes, Clark leads the Bearcats with 194 deflections this season, a statistic tracked closely in the Cincinnati program. His season best of 14 deflections came against Mississippi State (Dec. 12).
But as fierce of a competitor as Clark is on the court he has proven himself a gentlemen away from it. Named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award earlier this season, Clark has logged more than 50 hours of service in the Cincinnati community, interned with UC’s Vice President of Safety and Reform, Dr. Robin Engel, to positively impact campus safety and spent time visiting and encouraging hospital patients.
Clark also has earned a pair of prestigious UC academic awards, the 2016 Legion of Excellence Award for the highest grade-point average on the men’s basketball team and the 2018 Jean Stephens Award honoring student-athletes of high integrity, ethical standards and commitment to teamwork.
On Monday, Clark earned the distinction as the only player in the league unanimously named First Team All-AAC, UC’s first unanimous first-team selection since Sean Kilpatrick in 2013-14. Teammate junior swingman Jacob Evans III (Baton Rouge, La./St. Michael the Archangel) also was tabbed with first team honors on Monday. Fellow post player senior forward Kyle Washington (Champlin, Minn./NC State) earned honorable mention all-conference recognition.
// AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE AWARDS ANNOUNCED TUESDAY
Defensive Player of the Year: Gary Clark, Cincinnati
Most Improved Player: Melvin Frazier, Tulane
Sportsmanship Award: Gary Clark, Cincinnati
Sixth Man of the Year: Armoni Brooks, Houston
Team Academic Award: Tulane