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Kentucky’s Terrence Clarke, 19, dies after car accident in Los Angeles while preparing for NBA Draft

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Terrence Clarke, who played his lone season of college basketball at Kentucky in 2020-21, died Thursday following a car accident in Los Angeles. He was 19 years old.

“I am absolutely gutted and sick tonight,” UK coach John Calipari said in a statement late Thursday. “A young person who we all love has just lost his life too soon, one with all of his dreams and hopes ahead of him. Terrence Clarke was a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy. People gravitated to him, and to hear we have lost him is just hard for all of us to comprehend right now. We are all in shock.

“I am on my way to Los Angeles to be with his mother and his brother to help wherever I can.  This will be a difficult period for all those who know and love Terrence, and I would ask that everyone take a moment tonight to say a prayer for Terrence and his family. May he rest in peace.”

Clarke signed with Kentucky as one of the prized jewels of its 2020 recruiting class but missed most of the season with an ankle injury. After being sidelined more than three months, he returned in the 2021 SEC Tournament to record 10 minutes in a 74-73 loss to Mississippi State. He appeared in eight total games and made six starts.

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Clarke, a potential first-round pick, was in Los Angeles preparing for the 2021 NBA Draft following a one-and-done season with the Wildcats. On Wednesday, Klutch Sports Group announced him as one of their high-profile clients ahead of this summer’s draft.

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“We are saddened and devastated by the tragic loss of Terrence Clarke,” said Rich Paul, President and CEO of Klutch Sports Group, which was representing Clarke. “He was an incredible, hard-working young man. He was excited for what was ahead of him and ready to fulfill his dreams. Our prayers go out to Terrence and his family, who ask for privacy during this difficult time.”

Originally from the greater Boston area, Clarke was long considered talented basketball prospect. He attended Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, where he blossomed. Clarke earned scholarship offers from Duke, UCLA, Baylor and Indiana among other top-tier programs before committing to Kentucky in the fall of 2019. Clarke was ranked as one of the top prospects in the 2021 class but reclassified to the 2020 class, arriving at Kentucky ahead of this past season as a top-10 recruit.

Despite injury holding him back in his freshman campaign, Clarke was still seen as a certain NBA Draft selection later this summer. 

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