For four seasons, Jason Clark would walk into Verizon Center as a member of the Georgetown Hoyas and change into his uniform in the team locker room a few steps from the auxiliary court where the Washington Wizards practice.
On Tuesday morning, Clark bypassed that customary stop and instead pulled on a Wizards practice jersey for a workout in his quest to be selected in the NBA draft on June 28. The Wizards have the third overall pick as well as Nos. 32 and 46.
“It’s kind of weird coming into this arena and not having on a Georgetown jersey,” said Clark, who also has auditioned for Miami and San Antonio. “It’s weird, but I’m willing to work hard to try to play here again.”
Clark led the Hoyas in scoring this past season with 14.1 points per game and was a major reason why Georgetown vastly exceeded preseason expectations to finish 24-9. The 6-foot-2 guard, though, admitted his role at the next level won’t be necessarily as a scorer.
Although Clark’s jump shot developed considerably during his time at Georegetown, he has been concentrating on ball handling, defending and contributing in other ways that may not appear in the box score.
“It’s long, stressful, tiring,” Clark said of the pre-draft process. “This is what you play basketball your whole life for. I’m just going to keep pushing, trying to get a job.”
Clark did see at least one familiar face during his workout, that being Scoop Jardine from arch rival Syracuse. Jardine was among six players whom the Wizards coaching staff and front office evaluated during a session that lasted approximately 2 1/2 hours.
Also participating were guards Darius Miller (Kentucky) and Matt Gatens (Iowa), and forwards Bernard James (Florida State) and Mile Plumlee (Duke).
“I was just telling Jason we played against each other for four years,” Jardine said. “Today was just like I was on the road playing against Georgetown on their home court, hitting big shots, talking to their fans.
“But it was great. We know each other’s game. We’ve scouted each other for a long time. We’re just about coming here and competing, not really trying to outplay each other.”
During some down time near the end of the workout, Clark and Jardine stood along the baseline and spoke at length. Jardine revealed that while he and Clark were fiercely competitive on the court, the experience of playing in the rugged Big East through their senior years has allowed them to forge a lasting bond.
Neither Clark nor Jardine were invited to the NBA combine, another indication that league talent evaluators perhaps are overlooking both players or consider them at best low-tier prospects.
Clark’s path to becoming among the most decorated and appreciated players at Georgetown under John Thompson III included similar obstacles.
During his first three seasons, including as a full-time starter as a sophomore and juinor, Clark, who was All-Met Player of the Year at Bishop O’Connell, often played in the shadow of guards Austin Freeman (DeMatha) and Chris Wright (St. John’s).
By last season when Freeman and Wright had graduated, Clark was the unquestioned leader of the Hoyas and had the ball in his hands during the most important moments of games. He responded by helping direct Georgetown to fifth place in the Big East during the regular season after being picked to finish 10th in a a preseason poll of conference coaches.
“Every workout I’ve been to, they’ve always said they like my work ethic, how much I compete,” said Clark, who received no individual preseason accolades either. “That’s what I’ve been doing all my life, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
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