Clark named AAC Player of the Year
The good news just keeps rolling in for Cincinnati Bearcats senior forward Gary Clark. He was already named to the First Team All-AAC Team, Defensive Player of the Year and Sportsmanship Award now he has been named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Pretty cool for the humble star, he helped guide his Bearcats to a 27-4 record and won their first outright AAC Title since the conference was created.
If you have ever listened to audio of Mick Cronin talking about Clark you understand how the senior claimed this award. Congrats Gary, Clifton will miss you next year.
University of Cincinnati senior forward Gary Clark (Clayton, N.C./Clayton High School) has been named the 2017-18 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
Clark becomes the first Bearcat to earn a conference player of the year award since Steve Logan received the honor in back-to-back seasons in Conference USA (2001 and 2002).
Clark’s all-round contributions to the success of eighth-ranked Cincinnati (27-4, 16-2) were recognized by the league coaches. He helped the Bearcats win their first outright conference championship since 2002, averaging 12.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks while shooting 51.3 percent (136 of 265) from the floor and 44.2 percent (23 of 52) from three-point range.
Clark ranks among the AAC leaders in nine categories through the regular season: rebounds (first at 8.2), double-doubles (first with nine), offensive rebounds (second at 3.0), defensive rebounds (fourth at 5.3), blocks (sixth at 1.3), steals (seventh at 1.5), field goal percentage (eighth at .513), free throw percentage (13th at .760) and points (18th at 12.7).
A steady contributor for the Bearcats, Clark has led UC in either points or rebounds in 24 games this season.
Closing out his final weeks in a Cincinnati uniform, Clark is capping off one of the most distinguish careers in school history. He is one of only five players at UC to achieve more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. He currently has 1,391 career points, tied for 17th with Paul Hogue (1960-62). Clark’s 1,074 career rebounds are 15 shy from passing Hogue (1,088 rebounds) for third place in school history. Clark’s career rebounding total ranks first in AAC history (since 2013-14).
Besides points and rebounds, Clark’s name appears often in the UC record book. He enters the 2018 American Championship ranked first at UC in career starts (132), tied for second in all-time wins (102 with Troy Caupain [2014-17]), third in consecutive games played (134), fifth in blocks (175), sixth in minutes played (3,838) and seventh in steals (158).
Earlier this week, 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. On Tuesday, Clark became 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. He is 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).
Clark was also recognized Tuesday by the league coaches, earning the AAC Sportsmanship Award. 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.
// CLARK’S 2017-18 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE AWARDS
Player of the Year
First Team All-Conference (league’s only unanimous selection)
Defensive Player of the Year
// AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE AWARDS ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY
Player of the Year: Gary Clark, Cincinnati
Rookie of the Year: Shawn Williams, ECU
Coach of the Year: Kelvin Sampson, Houston
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Obi Enechionyia, Temple